By Staff Writer, ITWeb

Recently-launched gender-based violence (GBV) chatbot, Chomi, will be available in two more languages, in an effort to reach more GBV survivors.

Non-profit organisation and developer of the chatbot, Shout-It-Now, announced this ahead of the Presidential Summit on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide, which kicks-off today.

In a statement, Shout-It-Now says Chomi, which currently offers assistance in English and isiZulu, will add Setswana and isiXhosa.

The additional languages are under development and scheduled to launch this month, it reveals.

Cristianne Wendler, Shout-It-Now strategic advisor, says: “It’s incredibly difficult for people who have or are experiencing abuse to know what their options are, where to get factual information or who they can talk to. There’s a lot of misplaced guilt, blame, shame and fear – many give up on ever finding the help they need.

“Chomi puts that help within their grasp, safely and anonymously. People need to be empowered with information, access and options, and they need to know that they are not to blame and they are not alone.”

Launched in August, Chomi is a multilingual WhatsApp-based chatbot service that provides information, advice backed by experts and service referrals to GBV survivors, or people who wish to help a GBV survivor.

More than 640 messages are built into the chatbot to empower GBV survivors, and friends of survivors, through cited knowledge and anonymous support, according to the statement.

Additionally, it offers practical insights via nine streams; namely, emergency assistance, GBV information and FAQs, reporting violence, what to do if an incident of rape has occurred, counselling support, legal assistance, safety planning, women’s shelters, and connecting to support services.

While traditional methods of dealing with GBV place the onus on the survivor to report their abuse, Shout-It-Now notes that Chomi’s survivor-centric approach aims to meet the survivor where they are, on their terms, when they’re ready.

It is designed to target young people who are tech-savvy and receptive to new approaches. Young women are disproportionately affected by GBV, yet they are often afraid to access traditional service delivery channels, so alternative options are essential to reach survivors where and how they need.

“This is not expensive, cutting-edge technology we’re talking about,” Wendler notes. “It’s a WhatsApp chatbot. And yet, amidst the archaic, paper-based protocols forced on the public health sector, Chomi is an example of the innovative use of technology to provide proactive and preventative health services.”

To use Chomi, survivors can add this number +27 (0) 82 229 6251 to their mobile and message ‘hi’ to start a conversation on WhatsApp.

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