Toranj: A New App for Iranian Women Experiencing Domestic Violence

Today NetFreedom Pioneers and United for Iran, a Bay-Area NGO working to promote civil liberties and civil society in Iran, are announcing the release of Toranj, a groundbreaking app that empowers and supports victims of domestic abuse.

Toranj assists Iranian women who have suffered or are suffering domestic abuse in several different ways. It acts as a method of instantaneous communication, notifying trusted friends of a victim’s abuse the moment it begins. Victims can safely and discreetly send a series of pre-drafted text messages to selected contacts. For example, these texts can read “call the police,” “get here fast,” or any other message the user would like to prepare. This can be done at a simple touch of the app’s HELP button. Furthermore, the app shares the victim’s GPS signal to inform these contacts of the victim’s location.

The app also contains a list of suggested, local experts who survivors may contact for support: family attorneys, counselors, law enforcement officers, and advocates. Legal documents and guidelines pertaining to victim rights and the filing of abuse complaints are also available to read and examine on Toranj. Survivors and victims thus have immediate access to a support network containing trusted friends and family, advocates, and knowledge of the legal system.

“Where social, cultural and legal barriers already make gender equality a struggle for women, user-friendly technologies are vital to provide support to at-risk individuals and raise awareness about their rights,” added Simin Kargar, Program Manager of NetFreedom Pioneers.

“In Iran, as in many parts of the world, domestic violence and other acts of abuse against women are too common. A 2003 study found 66% of married women in Iran subjected to some kind of violence.  50% of Iranian women silently experience domestic abuse yet fewer than 35% report to law enforcement,” explained Firuzeh Mahmoudi, Executive Director of United for Iran. “We hope that Toranj users never need to call for help. But the reality is that too many Iranian women experience domestic abuse and violence at the hands of a loved one. Toranj gives them the power to protect themselves and tools to stay out of harm’s way.”

However, Toranj is for both survivors and anyone who may become one. On the Toranj app, users can complete an assessment of their current relations with others. The assessment not only provides questions which women should consider in regards to the healthiness of their relationships, but also determines the prospective abusiveness of the user’s current partnership.

Toranj was developed by NetFreedom Pioneers, which was selected as one of the small grant winners of the IranCubator contest in August.

Toranj app may be viewed and downloaded here.