Sage Foundation together with AI for Good and the Soul City Institute for Social Justice have today launched a new chatbot designed to be a companion for victims of domestic violence.

The bot is known as rAInbow and for now it lives on Facebook Messenger where it is available 24/7.

The aim of the bot is to provide a safe space from victims of domestic violence where they can access information about their rights, options for support and where to find help.

Advocacy manager at Soul City Institute for Social Justice, Matokgo Makutoane said that this innovation will help protect the lives of countless girls and women.

“Innovations like rAINbow will help break the silence even more. We will remember this year as the year that the women of South Africa said ‘No. We are fighting back’,” Makutoane said.

Speaking at the launch of rAINbow in Johannesburg this morning, founder of AI for Good, Kriti Sharma said, “We expect rAInbow to give us insights that can lead to social and governance reform, which can significantly contribute to ongoing change and improved safety of women in society. More people are realising the potential of exponential technologies and innovation to solve social challenges. rAInbow is a new approach to an old problem and our hope is that it will make it easy for people to get help.”

The bot is free to use and while it isn’t a replacement for a human companion it’s a way for a victim of abuse in any form to speak to somebody (or in this case something) that isn’t judgemental, is easy to understand and provides valuable advice.

For now the app is primed for women though Sharma says AI for Good is working to expand the service to include LGBTQI people and men.

As this service is available through Facebook you will need a Facebook account to access it which means that (because of Facebook rules) you’ll need to be at least 13 to access rAINbow.

Despite being on Facebook, Sharma assures us all data is anonymised.

The bot will get better as more folks use it and the hope is that the tools available to victims and survivors of abuse will improve as time goes on. There is also a plan to use the data to better understand abusers.

To use rAInbow visit the website or start a conversation over on Facebook.