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News Article

A Chatbot to Fight Gender Violence

By Miriam Bello | Thu, 11/04/2021 - 17:47

Tech and lawyers come together to fight to violence against women, one of Mexico’s largest social problems. Meet Themis, a chatbot that will channel women and non-binary people from all over the country with legal professionals who will provide the necessary legal advice on gender violence.

In Mexico, at least 66 percent of women over 14 years old have experienced violence at some point in their life and 44 percent of them have experienced domestic violence. This violence may be physical, sexual, verbal, psychological or economic and is happening in homes, on the streets and increasingly online. It is estimated that, on average, there are 10 femicides daily.

In the first five months of 2021, femicides increased by 7.1 percent compared to the same period the previous year, according to Minister of Public Security, Rosa Icela Rodríguez. From January to May, 423 women have been murdered.

Mexico’s National Shelter Network reports that in the first five months of 2021, at least 13,631 women fled their homes with their children due to violence. In addition, according to the National Public Security System (SNSP), from January to May of this year, 106,603 cases of family violence were reported. In all of 2020, 220,031 cases were registered, which is the highest figure since 2015.

Civil responses to gender violence have used tech to reach a wider audience suffering from this type of violence. The development of safe technology to address gender-based violence requires leadership and collaboration with women and girls, says UNICEF. The agency stressed that the rights, needs and wishes of survivors of violence must be central to design of new technologies to address this problem. This has been the core of Themis, a chatbot to channel women and non-binary people from all over the country with legal professionals who provide the necessary legal advice on gender violence. Red de Abogadas Violetacreators of Themis, are a network of lawyers who provide free legal advice with a gender perspective to female victims of violence. 

Verónica Moreno, Co-Founder, Red de Abogadas Violeta, told MBN that when the network was founded in 2020, it received one to three requests from gender violence survivors on a daily basis. “As the network’s expanded, the number of requests was surpassing the team’s capacity to timely channel the request with the right layer, thus we came up with the idea of creating a chatbot that will automatically channel the case with an expert.”

Themis is a Facebook-powered chatbot developed, for free, by Fábrica de Bots to support the cause. “This is a demonstration of how support networks and collaboration can meet for the greater good, just as tech meets justice to create a quick response to gender abuse,” said Moreno.

To date, the chatbot has been active for four days and received 20 requests during its first 24 hours. “By now, it has channeled about 60 requests, meaning that these people have the opportunity to receive legal advice as soon as they are channeled with a lawyer.”

Themis additionally offers psychological attention to users and allows them to make a donation to the lawyers’ network, to join the network or to schedule an interview to communicate with media outlets.

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Journalist and Industry Analyst