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Tuesday, 4 December, 2001, 15:45 GMT
Online kiosks aid abused women
A quarter of all women suffer domestic violence during their life, BBC
Women who are victims of domestic violence will soon be able to turn to technology for help.

Women in London, UK, who suffer mental and physical abuse by their spouses or partners, will be able to find and contact support services via the net-connected kiosks that dot some of the capital's streets.

The project has the backing of charities working to end domestic violence.

The groups say because using a kiosk is anonymous, the project could reach women whose access to help is otherwise controlled by their abusive partner.

Mind games

At any one time, 10% of women in the UK are suffering domestic violence, and up to a quarter of women will suffer domestic violence at some point during their lives.

Anything that can enable women to find out information safely is a good thing

Jo Todd
Often the violence did not take the form of physical abuse, said Jo Todd, national development worker at the Domestic Violence Intervention Project, (DVIP), which is co-ordinating the kiosk project.

Ms Todd said often the abuse took the form of a range of behaviours designed to control the life of a woman. This can make it very difficult for women to get help without arousing the suspicions of their partner.

"There can be a lot of manipulation and checking up," said Ms Todd. "Abused women may have to account for their time outside their house and not have time to go to their local library to look for help."

Big decisions

Before now, DVIP has put posters in places where women can see information about telephone helplines, workshops and help groups without having to change their usual routine.

Ken Livingstone - Mayor of London, AP
The Mayor Ken Livingstone and the Greater London Authority are helping combat domestic violence
Ms Todd said the kiosks were ideal for putting information in front of women as they went about their daily lives.

"Anything that can enable women to find out information safely is a good thing," she said.

DVIP is working with kiosk developer Cityspace, which has many of its booths deployed at bus stops and along busy streets in the capital.

Like the posters and leaflets that DVIP already produces, the kiosks will hold information about telephone helplines that women suffering abuse can turn to for advice on how to deal with violence, or how to leave an abusive partner.

Kiosk roll-out

The i-plus kiosks are installed in Westminster, Kensington, Chelsea, Southwark, Sutton, Islington and Bromley. On average, 100,000 people are using the kiosks every month to pay parking fines or find out information about local services.

Currently, information for those suffering domestic violence is being trialled on four kiosks. Even though it has only been running for a few days, the trial sites have already generated e-mail messages from women seeking help.

From January the information will be rolled out to other kiosks in London.

The plan to use kiosks is part of a larger strategy drawn up by the Greater London Authority that tries to tackle domestic violence that was unveiled in late November.

See also:

27 Aug 01 | dot life
Government starts with E
22 Nov 01 | England
Door opens on domestic violence
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