Crimes against women spur more surveillance in South Asia

The Japan Times 

As cases of violence against women and girls have surged in South Asia in recent years, authorities have introduced harsher penalties and expanded surveillance networks, including facial recognition systems, to prevent such crimes. Police in the north Indian city of Lucknow earlier this year said they would install cameras with emotion recognition technology to spot women being harassed, while in Pakistan, police have launched a mobile safety app after a gang rape. But use of these technologies with no evidence that they help reduce crime, and with no data protection laws, has raised alarm among privacy experts and women's rights activists who say the increased surveillance can hurt women even more. "The police does not even know if this technology works," said Roop Rekha Verma, a women's rights activist in Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh state, which had the highest number of reported crimes against women in India in 2019. "Our experience with the police does not give us the confidence that they will use the technology in an effective and empathetic manner. If it is not deployed properly, it can lead to even more harassment, including from the police," she said.

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