Group officially unveils 'safety app' for women in distress

Taipei, Aug. 19 (CNA) A Taipei-based women's rights group and a local mobile developer unveiled Tuesday an upgrade to "HelpMee," an app for iOS and Android that aims to ensure women can stay safe both in public and at home. The Taipei Women's Rescue Foundation and Chylyng Co. said the new version will be available for free starting Aug. 22. The new features aim to increase ways for women suffering domestic violence at home or harassment at night clubs to protect themselves, said Huang Chao-chi, chief executive officer of Chylyng Co. The new design of the app makes it easier to send SOS messages asking for help, he added. Through the app, users can seek help from police or an emergency contact. It also features a flashlight, alarm lamp and siren, and is marketed as helping mainly for women in need. Chylyng developed a new version of "HelpMee" after receiving feedback from the foundation, which has been extending help to victims of domestic violence, Huang told CNA. Citing government statistics, Women's Rescue Foundation director Kang Shu-hua said in a statement that 86,353 women were victims of violent crimes including sexual assault and robbery in 2013. With the growing popularity of smartphones, she said, mobile apps can help women in need seek timely assistance. Since its launch in February, "HelpMee" has seen about 1,500 downloads to date, according to Huang. He said he hopes the new version will reach 10,000 downloads within a year. (By Elaine Hou)