Data on marginalized communities

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Collecting Data in Marginalized Communities w/ @fabrider


Sex workers

Dirk worked with a sex worker community in Southeast Asia to identify human rights violations in that community. It began with a needs assessment. The funder wanted to use mobile devices for reporting. The team immediately realized that was impractical for multiple reasons. Literacy was an issue. The local language was incompatible with the mobile devices' character set. People in this community rarely kept phones for long, because they often sold them for cash, or if they had them, they were rarely turned on. The existing data collection on abuse was paper-based, and often ad hoc to support individual legal cases. There was no internal aggregated advocacy effort. The only form of aggregated data collection was by external agents, such as advocates, looking for data for other causes. They sought different outcomes, producing no useful findings for the sex workers, and kept all their findings. Dirk's team created an early and immediate impact by hand-entered all the data, and producing some simple pie charts. Just having pie charts on paper produced a huge impact with local credibility for the community. The next step was to create more data visualizations. This involved teaching a lot of skills. Not just technical skills, but data analysis, even as basic as percentages and statistics. The key visualization in this effort was a set of two pie charts – police violence against sex workers, and organized crime violence against sex workers. Others include the impact of new legislations, violence by district. The survey itself served as an education tool. Just asking a sex worker to fill it out required letting them know they weren't the only person with these experiences. They field tested the survey data, which was important. The biggest key was listening. They never actually brought up sex, and were careful to avoid increasing stigma.


Drug users.

Dirk is currently working with a group with the goal of reducing police violence against women who use drugs in eastern Europe. They used Ushahiti to map time and location of police violence. Clear security reasons to be careful with data. They take these map reports to neighborhood level meetings, and are working with harm reduction groups.

The biggest takeaway was listening!