Preity Zinta, who has launched Kavach Safety, a social service campaign, talks about how it will help women not just in times of distress but also in collecting evidence.
Preity Zinta studied Criminal Psychology before getting into acting. And, now she is making use of her degree to help out women in distress. The Dil Se actress has now launched a social service campaign — Kavach Safety, in association with Anthony Moorhouse, Ex Special Forces, Australia and founder of Dynamq, for the protection of women. Preity is currently in Pune visiting several educational institutes and IT companies to promote the campaign. Her team aims to reach out to 50,000 women.
When we caught up with the actress at a city hotel on Tuesday, the charming lady had lots to share.
The beginning of the project:
“Look what’s happening around us!” Preity exclaims, adding, There are cases like Nirbhaya, girls are assaulted on streets. I also had a few personal experiences. All this played a catalyst in starting this project.”
Everyone is entitled to be safe and protected. And, so the actress and entrepreneur wanted to come up with a service, “that had heart and also helpful in catching the perpetrator.”
“Kavach Safety is privatising emergency response. You press the button and somebody is going to come and help you. But how does it stop crime? It won’t. But it will definitely help in reducing it. Kavach Safety collects audio forensic evidence, which cannot be changed, manipulated or cheated. Humans err, but not technology. You cannot cheat technology. The only way we can control crime is when the rate of conviction goes up, which can only happen when you have proper evidence,” points out Priety.
How does it work?
Kavach Safety is a subscription service that can be availed through your smartphone. If you get only the button, then it will cost you
Rs 118, and if you opt for app, it comes to Rs 300 a month. If you get the device, it will come to Rs 418, per month.
Talking about the specifics of this service, Preity says, “First, this service is made for women, by women. There are lot of safety apps for women. How do they work? In case of emergency, the app will notify your family, that you are in trouble. And, they will inform the police. Kavach Safety focuses on three aspects: one, we ask for your emergency contact, two, note your medical history, and thirdly we take your voice sample.
We have an emergency operation centre, and as soon as you press the button, it says ‘Kavach number 12345’ is in trouble and geotags you. In simple words, we find out where you are, through technology. When you press the app, it connects through bluetooth to your phone and becomes an audio recorder. It records audio forensic evidence and will go directly to Cloud and get saved. Your voice is as unique as your fingerprints. We also call the police and simultaneously, we send a private dispatch of ex armed forces people.
They will come with body camera and mikes so that the police can’t say that we have tampered with the evidence and there will be no blame game. This group will also help you through the police case, because that’s the biggest hurdle. They will take you to hospital and the initial cost will be taken care by insurance because you are also insuring for initial medical care and victim advocacy. It’s very holistic one stop shop.”
The courts can access the recording and thus the duration of the trial is reduced. “I have studied criminal psychology before getting into acting. I also wanted to become forensic scientist. I am glad it’s coming to use,” she adds.
How to subscribe?
“Our service has not yet gone live, because we are doing a test run in Pune with 50,000 women. For you to avail our service, you need a smartphone. Go to our website — www.kavachsafety.com — and we will give you a unique number, which will help you download the service from Google or any other service. You need to fill in proper information,” the actress says.
Not an easy journey
One would assume that this project would have got thumbs up from everyone involved. But it was not smooth-sailing.
Says Priety, “Have you heard of anything that takes five years to get started? I was very lucky with films, because they worked out smoothly and quickly. I got into cricket and I started working on it two months after the bid. When I told my friends, ‘let’s invest together in this project’, they responded, ‘It’s never going to work’. Or ‘do you want to be a social worker?’ They also said, ‘Why don’t you do it for charity?’ Can you ask army men to go to border for charity? It was my most rejected proposal.
There were few people who supported me and some of them were men. I got a lot of feedback from them which enhanced the project. Then I met Dr Krishnamurthy, forensic expert in Mumbai, she is my idol, and we started talking about the nitty-gritties of the app. I must mention that Sakal Media Group’s Managing Director Abhijeet Pawar and his wife Mrunal, who have encouraged me a lot. Our Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis also supported me. Pune Police Commissioner Rashmi Shukla also guided us and that’s the reason why we are launching this service in Pune first. This wouldn’t have been possible without government, police and technology support.”
The actress has applied for CSR for her company and once she gets it, she will reach out to smaller villager and cities. “I am doing 5000 free registrations of women from the armed forces background. If their fathers, brothers or husband are sacrificing their lives for us, can’t we look after them? I am from army background and I realised we need to support them. I am also starting a campaign where the public can donate whatever they want. My friends from the film industry are also donating. You can sponsor the safety of one or maybe 20 women, if you can afford it. It’s giving back to our society,” she adds.