#cyberbullying | #cyberbully | Colorado youth tech startup supports sexual assault survivors in India

Senthilnathan’s frustration about the lack of support for sexual assault victims in her home country moved her to act. In 2020, she created Privando, a startup that focuses on education in schools, legislation within the Government of India and location-based services with geographic tracking technology to help sexual harassment and sexual assault survivors. 

Senthilnathan, now a student at the Colorado School of Mines, has always been passionate about community service.

Privando currently operates in regions of India where reports of rape are most prevalent. Photo courtesy of Privando.

“I’ve always been a servant leader,” Senthilnathan said. “My parents immigrated to this country in 1998. So seeing their hardships, I know that I have to do better. I have to do better for them and for the community.”

Senthilnathan told Rocky Mountain PBS that Privando provides wearable technology, such as watches, that women can use to contact a safety dispatch team that will provide support on-site. The technology is inspired by emergency blue light boxes used on university campuses.

In addition to wearable technology that records video and audio and allows the user to call for help, Privando teaches girls and women self-defense. Photo courtesy of Privando.

“It’s like the people’s police work force, but it’s all women,” Senthilnathan said. “It’s all female leadership.”

The technology also records and sends audio and video recordings to the call center. The recordings serve as a third-party eyewitness in highly escalated crimes and conflicts.

“We really are trying to bring out the conflict resolution part of this, but it makes it a lot more difficult when there are corrupt government agencies or corrupt government officials in India who just aren’t willing to work with us,” Senthilnathan said. “We always have to take it to court and get it done through the court.”

Senthilnathan explained that Privando has a for-profit and a nonprofit sector. In order to ensure that women living in rural communities have access to Privando’s products, she said, Privando also purchases the wearable technology and distributes the tech through nonprofit partners in India. 

“The intent is to create a safe space for women,” Senthilnathan said.

According to Senthilnathan, Privando has supported 1,232 sexual assault survivors in India and began working with 731 schools across India to implement educational resources related to cyberbullying, stalking and gender equality. 

She believes the work Privando is doing can be used in almost every country. 

Senthilnathan holds her 2021 Women that Build Edition – Rising Star award from Globant, an IT and Software development company based in South America.

“The single concept that we’re taking here is epistemic injustice, which is pretty much the fact that another person knows that they’re doing something wrong or they know that there’s this injustice going on, but they stay silent about it,” Senthilnathan said. 

Eventually, Senthilnathan hopes to bring Privando’s technology to the United States in order to help provide protection for BIPOC communities from police brutality.

Senthilnathan’s work with Privando led her to being named a national winner of the Rising Star Globant Award: Women that Build Edition in 2021. According to a press release from Globant, an IT and Software Development company based in South America, the award is part of Globant’s initiative to change the reality of the IT industry and reduce the gender gap by providing more visibility to women that generate and contribute to the tech sector. 

Theresa Ho is the RMPBS Kids digital content producer. You can reach her at theresaho@rmpbs.org.

Jeremy Moore is a senior multimedia journalist with Rocky Mountain PBS. You can email him at jeremymoore@rmpbs.org.

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