This Dating App Wants to Expose Hidden Violence On International Women's Day

Imagine swiping and coming across a battered woman.
Happn will show profiles of victims of violence alongside regular users of the app.
Happn will show profiles of victims of violence alongside regular users of the app.

A novel campaign aims to expose violence against women.

Equality Now, a global nonprofit, partnered with dating app Happn to create the "One in Three" campaign, named for the number of women who have been victims of physical or sexual abuse at some point in their lives.

Happn is a location-based app that lets users connect with people they've crossed paths with in real life. As part of the project, users will see special profiles of bruised women who survived violence, alongside regular profiles of other users in the app. 

The project launched on March 8, International Women's Day. 

"We hope that showing how enormous this problem is will inspire everyone to call on their governments to end all forms of violence against women,” Yasmeen Hassan, global executive director of Equality Now, said in a press release. “Countless commitments have been made, but they do not always translate to action."

When someone encounters one of the victim profiles, the lead image will show a bruised woman, and the user can scroll through photos that show her slowly heal -- mimicking the way women can recover as people and governments pay attention to them.

A mockup of how a "survivor" profile will evolve as users scroll through her photos.
A mockup of how a "survivor" profile will evolve as users scroll through her photos.

Happn CEO Didier Rappaport said the cause of violence against women seemed a natural fit with his app.

“Our primary purpose is to restore the missed connections in life. Making the connection between overlooked survivors of violence against woman and all the rest of us who otherwise pass them by every day is one of the greatest services Happn can make,” Rappaport said in a statement.

The special profiles will be available in 21 cities, including New York, Hong Kong and Paris.

Violence against women takes many forms, according to Brendan Wynne, of Equality Now, who cited victims of female genital mutilation, sex trafficking, child marriage and domestic abuse as just a few examples of the "one in three" statistic.

Happn has been criticized in the past for its potential misuse for stalking. The app tells users about the strangers they’ve crossed paths with, and how frequently, which could easily take a turn toward harassment. But Rappaport says that the location data isn't precise enough to facilitate stalking, and that the large populations of cities where the app works would prevent that. 

Ultimately, both partners hope this project will raise awareness about violence against women and inspire governments to take action. 

“This International Women's Day is yet another great opportunity for all governments to take a concrete step in this direction by reviewing their legislation and removing all laws that help perpetuate violence, or which discriminate, against women,” Hassan said.



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