Women’s Refuge: The Shielded Site

Horrifyingly, New Zealand has the worst rate of family and intimate-partner violence in the developed world, so Saatchi&Saatchi (New Zealand) teamed up with the Women’s Refuge to help tackle this problem.
Dr Ang Jury (Women’s Refuge Chief Executive) says:

We’ve noticed an increasingly disturbing trend of perpetrators using smartphones, software and apps to track and stalk women, during and after the relationship has ended. The very tools we hope would assist a woman in seeking help are being used to abuse, and we needed to do something about that.

The solution involves an anonymous website that protects women from from those who may check their browser history. The website appears as a widget on websites (currently only The Warehouse’) and allows users to access help. 1 in 3 partnered women in New Zealand reported domestic abuse, and other findings include:

  • 64% of women suffer from psychological abuse,
  • 49% physical abuse,
  • 23% financial abuse,
  • 21% harassment and stalking,
  • 12% sexual abuse,
  • 11% abuse with weapons,
  • 24% of cases included a child witnessing or hearing it happening
  • Family violence rates spike dramatically in NZ before and during the holidays

shielded_site

These stats are insane, and it goes to show that there is a hell of a lot of work to be done to protect domestic abuse victims. However, I’ve just noticed a serious problem with how this is being tackled – the website claims that:

The shielded website allows victims to seek information online under the guise of browsing The Warehouse website.  A victim in an abusive relationship who is seeking support or advice can safely can visit The Warehouse website, click on the icon, and be provided with vital information without leaving a browser trail.  A perpetrator tracking a victim’s online movements and browser history will see they’ve only visited The Warehouse website.

So, if the abuser sees ‘The Warehouse’ or any of the other future supporters of the project (so far The Warehouse is the only organisation currently taking part in this online initiative) on their partner’s browser history and has read about the ‘shielded website’, this will contradict the entire reason for the project. Whilst anyone or any business can support the Women’s Refuge by adding the Shielded Site button to their website, won’t victims still be at risk if this appears in their browser and is recognised by their abuser?

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