Joined: 26 Oct 2020
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|Posted: Fri Mar 26, 2021 4:56 am Post subject: How a teen’s fake shop helps abuse victims
Disturbed by reports of rising domestic violence under coronavirus lockdown, a Polish high school student decided to launch a fake online shop to offer a lifeline to victims trapped in their homes.
Her idea won a European Union prize that came with €10,000 (£8,700; $12,120).
"Firstly, I heard about the increase in domestic violence cases during the pandemic. Then I heard about a French initiative, where people go to the pharmacy and ask for a special mask that lets the pharmacist know they are a victim of domestic violence," Krystyna Paszko explained.
"I thought it was a brilliant idea, so I came up with the idea of selling cosmetics."
In April, Krystyna, who was 17 at the time, decided to launch the fake online shop "Camomiles and Pansies" to sell those cosmetics. The idea is that the victim can hide requests for help from their abuser at home by appearing to be shopping online.
When a victim writes asking to buy a cream, a psychologist responds instead of a salesperson and asks how long the "skin problems" have been going on for, or how the affected skin reacts to alcohol. If someone places an order and leaves an address, it is actually code asking for authorities to visit their home.
After Krystyna openly wrote about her plan on her own Facebook page, she was inundated with questions.
"I thought it would only be for my friends, and friends of friends. I thought I would help maybe one person or two, but the shares on Facebook were big and it became really popular," she said.
With so much interest, Krystyna contacted the Women's Rights Centre, a Polish NGO, asking for assistance. In response it provided psychologists and lawyers to work with the website.
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Since its launch, more than 350 people have contacted the website. Most of the victims are young, under 40, and about 10% are male.
"More younger women prefer to write on Facebook than to call on the phone, it's more natural for younger women to use Facebook chat. Most of the men writing to us are teenagers," she said.