Since the pandemic started, domestic violence rates have increased all around the world. For many victims, quarantine measures have made it more difficult than ever to escape their abuser and reach out for help.
Krystyna Paszko, a Polish high school student, wanted to give abuse victims a discreet way to request for help.
“Firstly, I heard about the increase in domestic violence cases during the pandemic,” Paszko told BBC. “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.”
Paszko launched her fake cosmetics website called Camomiles and Pansies in April. When the user is on the website, it appears as if they are online shopping for different types of cosmetics. In reality, the victim is able to speak to what seems like a salesperson but is actually a psychologist.
The “salesperson” asks coded questions as if the user is looking to buy skin cream, but is really asking questions to gauge the situation of the victim. If the victim places an order and puts down their address, authorities are sent to their home. Since its launch, over 350 people have contacted the website.
Paszko was awarded a €10,000 prize from the European Union for her efforts in fighting the negative effects of COVID-19. She even got praise from Urszula Nowakowska, the president of the Woman Rights Centre.
Photo by Anna Shvets