Japan's Anti-Groping App Downloaded Hundreds Of Thousands Of Times
The 'Digi Police' app was produced to tackle crime in Tokyo but a recent anti-groping function has made the app a viral hit with Japanese women.
Digi Police is a crime-prevention app that was originally released in 2016 to alert Tokyo's residents about phone scams and fraud.
The anti-groping function to scare off gropers was only introduced a few months ago and has since led to over 237,000 downloads -- giving the app unusual popularity for a government-developed program.
The app allows women to press a "repel groper" icon that produces a screen with the message alerting other passengers that there is a groper on the train and asking for help.
Women who feel too embarrassed to speak up can simply hold up this alert.
Another press of the app will turn this message red with a voice that says "Please stop!" repeatedly.
Digi Police also has a feature that will send automated messages to an email address when the alert is used, allowing families to know when their child has been threatened or harassed on a train.
Groping is a widespread issue on Japanese public transport; it is known as chikan and efforts up to this point have failed to drastically reduce the numbers of these incidents.
The government has taken measures such as enforcing 'female-only' carriages to try and tackle the problem and posters in Tokyo train stations remind passengers that it is a crime punishable by up to six months in prison or a $6,600 fine.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Police said that 1,750 cases of groping on public transport were reported in 2017 alone -- and the number of occurrences is likely far higher, with most women declining to report the crimes.
Professor Kazue Muta of Osaka University Graduate School told Japan Times that he does not think it is possible to completely eradicate the problem of groping but also believes it has not been taken seriously up to this point because of patriarchal ideas that "trivialise" it as a woman's problem.