Building tech resilience against domestic abuse in Italy

#FeministTech #GenderBasedViolence #DigitalSelfDefence
Elena Silvestrini
Silvia Di Cesare
Claudia Fratangeli

Chayn Italia is an intersectional feminist tech project for survivors of domestic abuse and frontline workers across Italy. The purpose of this project is to develop resources and run training sessions on the dual nature of tech, which can enable abuse but also be a tool for defence, resilience and positive connection.

What will you be working on during the fellowship?

We will refine the structure of our team of in-house trainers and create and deliver much-needed training for frontline gender-based violence (GBV) workers on the dual role of technology in enabling and combating GBV. Sessions will focus on tech-facilitated GBV and self-defence strategies with a focus on privacy, the Internet of Things and stalkerware. To better identify key content for these sessions, we will conduct a needs assessment in collaboration with survivors and the Centri AntiViolenza (‘frontline services’ in Italian). At the same time, the training will stress how tech can be a lifeline and a resource for women experiencing abuse. Through it, they can reach their support networks, find information, document their legal cases and connect with other survivors. In 2021, living offline can no longer be the answer to tech-enabled abuse.

To what future do you aspire?

At Chayn, we aspire to a future where technology is used to empower women, not harm them. Our projects – which include creating online resources and guides, filling information gaps on services, supporting frontline workers, conducting sensitisation campaigns, and building networks among feminist movements – all contribute to making this a reality.

Tell us about yourselves. What motivates you?

The anti-violence sector in Italy suffers from chronic underfunding and an increasingly worrying digital divide. At a time when direct contact between women and frontline workers has not been possible, the Covid-19 pandemic further revealed the urgent need to combat domestic abuse. It is here that our feminist community of over 50 people, which includes frontline workers, developers, communicators, designers, researchers, facilitators and psychologists, can step in. Fighting gender based violence is our number one priority. By providing free training and bringing an innovative, survivor-centered, tech-based approach to combating GBV, we bridge the digital divide to connect survivors, women experiencing abuse and frontline workers, and ensure tech is used as a means of empowerment against abuse.