App Helps Identify Indian Girls Most in Need of Assistance

In 2014 alone, there were 5,466 reported cases of human trafficking in India. Especially in West Bengal and along the Bangladeshi border, young women are often lured with false promises of work or a good marriage, and are then sold into the sex industry or indentured servitude.

Women in these areas are targeted because they have less resources to work with than other Indian women; they often come from poor villages where Internet access and even electricity can be spotty and hard to come by, making them desperate to get out and less informed than their wealthier peers.

One thing India does have though is a huge market for mobile phones, and with that, the potential for useful technology in the form of applications. One such app is called GPower (or Girl Power) and it allows young women to submit information about themselves in order to determine if they qualify for various government assistance programs, like welfare, counseling, or job training. The app streamlines the process of determining if a girl qualifies, and then helps her get in touch with appropriate officials.

So far it has only been tested out with around 6,000 families in 20 West Bengal villages, but according to Child in Need Institute (CINI), it has a lot of potential beyond that. It will allow NGOs like CINI to better locate and manage at-risk and in-need girls and help them avoid the dangers of human trafficking. India is a huge nation with a massive population and no single NGO can ever hope to serve the whole country. Technology like GPower effectively amplifies the reach of any given group, like CINI, and allows them to more easily pursue their missions. And globally, GPower and apps like it could be used elsewhere, especially in other countries with significant cell phone use.