Laura Pisanello
3 minute read
23 Nov 2018
11:33 am

AI tech to assist domestic abuse victims

Laura Pisanello

The technology will act as a companion to victims of domestic violence through Facebook Messenger.

Photo: Stock image

An artificial intelligence technology which will assist victims of domestic violence was recently launched in Bryanston.

The technology, called rAInbow, will work through Facebook Messenger and will allow victims of domestic violence to have a conversation with an artificial intelligence programme, as well as receive advice and places to contact for further assistance, reports Sandton Chronicle.

Kriti Sharma, an artificial intelligence technologist, created the programme in partnership with the Sage Foundation and the Soul City Institute for Social Justice.

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Sharma said that as a teenager she began to understand the impact that technology could have in changing people’s lives. However, she soon realised that this is often not the case, and she wanted to create something that would make a tangible impact on people.

Kriti Sharma, the founder of rAInbow, discusses how it will work. Photo: Laura Pisanello

“It seems like in the digital world that everyone is fine, there are no problems, we are sharing happy pictures and everyone seems fine. Except that they are not fine, one in three women in South Africa faces domestic abuse… it is absolutely unacceptable.”

With the help of Soul City, Sharma went of a journey talking to women who had faced domestic abuse to find out exactly how they could be helped. The women raised three points they felt would be important, these included something that would be a companion, non-judgmental and, would allow them to go at their own pace.

“So we created rAInbow, a smart companion that is there for you, working with you at your own pace and never judges you.”

Debbie Wall, president of the Sage Foundation, started discussing the concept with Sharma two years ago when they had a conversation about domestic violence and were astounded by the matter-of-fact manner with which they discussed the issue.

“I think the biggest surprise was how domestic violence affected women, and how they talk about it in South Africa and this really galvanised me to make sure that we really got behind this project.”

Matokgo Makutoane from the Soul City Institute said that the Women’s March earlier this year highlighted the plight of women. She said that this technology would help provide some assistance to those who are victims.

Matokgo Makutoane from the Soul City Institute discusses why the artificial intelligence programme will be so helpful. Photo: Laura Pisanello

“What I particularly like is that this technology will shine a bright light in a dark place… Women don’t have to download an app and it is completely anonymous and confidential, it’s free of charge, except for your data, and provides scenario-based stories because one of the biggest problems that survivors face is feelings of isolation and loneliness.”

Makutoane added that while the programme is currently accessible on Facebook Messenger, it won’t be long until it is available on other platforms. To use rAInbow, you simply need to search for Hi Rainbow on Facebook and send a message.

Details: rAInbow

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