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PhD Ishtiaque Ahmed's Project Featured on Bangladeshi TV

Information Science PhD Ishtiaque Ahmed has been working on a project in his home country, Bangladesh, addressing a widespread problem there and elsewhere, of sexual harassment of women in public places. Ahmed and his research collaborators are developing a web and mobile app that allows women to report, map and share stories of harassment as they are happening. Recently, Ahmed's Protibadi project was featured on the Bangladeshi TV channel Independent TV and the paper that he has been working on with Professor Steve Jackson related to this project was accepted into the 2014 CHI Conference. 

Protibadi Project Description

The Bangla word, "Protibadi" means "the one who protests." In this project, we tried to develop a mobile phone application and a website for helping women fight street harassment. We talked to the female students of three universities in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. Based on their input we added features in our system. With the mobile phone application, a woman can make a loud sound from her mobile phone, can send emergency text messages to her friends, and report a crime on the street. These reports are presented in a map on the website, with descriptions for mass awareness. In the website, women can also post blogs, and share their experiences. After 1 month of deployment, we sought feedback from the users. We found both positive and negative sides of each of the features of this system. In the CHI paper, we tried to project both the challenges in conducting research on sensitive issues in developing countries like Bangladesh, and the limitations of some computing services to address the real life problems which is deeply rooted in the culture of these places.

Summary of the Independent TV Coverage of the Project

Since the television report is in Bangla, Ishtiaque Ahmed provided a summary of it here for our non-Bangla speaking audience. 

"This was a TV report broadcasted by one of the top TV channels in Bangladesh, named Independent TV. The reporter started with a short introduction of the problem of street harassment in Bangladesh. Then the description of the system started. They talked with our co-researchers who were in Bangladesh, and were students of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET). Those students talked about different features of this system. Then the reporter talked with one female student of the university who was using the system. That girl shared a story of using the application. She was badly addressed by a guy on the street, and she had no friend with her to help her at that time. She was afraid, but then she thought of trying this software. Luckily, a couple of her friends responded quickly and reached the spot to rescue her. The offender also got afraid guessing something was going to happen. The reporter ended the report saying they were glad this sort of applications are developed for helping Bangladeshi girls."

If you would like to view the television report, it you can access it on YouTube.