App tackles gropers on rush-hour trains

World | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 22 May 2019

A Tokyo police smartphone app to scare off molesters has become a smash hit in Japan, where women have long run the gauntlet of groping on packed rush-hour trains.

Victims of groping can activate the Digi Police app, which either blasts out a voice shouting "stop it" at top volume, or produces a full-screen SOS message - which victims can show other passengers - reading: "There is a molester. Please help."

The app has been downloaded more than 237,000 times, said police official Keiko Toyamine. Victims are often too scared to call out for help, she said.

There were nearly 900 groping and other harassment cases on Tokyo trains and subways reported in 2017, but "this is the tip of the iceberg," Toyamine said, with victims often hesitant to come forward.

Tokyo police launched the free Digi Police app three years ago to provide information for elderly people, as well as parents and their children about scams or prowlers. But the function to "repel molesters" was added a few months after the launch.

An online conversation about the app - caused by a female pop idol being assaulted late last year - resulted in its sudden popularity.

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