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India will require physical panic buttons on all mobile phones to prevent violence against women

India Will Require Physical Panic Buttons On All Mobile Phones To Prevent Violence Against Women

In a bid to prevent crimes against women, all mobile phones sold in India will be required to have a physical panic button installed by the beginning of next year. Department of Telecommunications minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Twitter that the new rule will go into effect in January 2017. When pressed, the panic button will send an alert to police and people chosen by the phone s user.

Approved yet another new policy. From Jan 2017, Panic Button in every new phone, to help our women in distress,with the power of technology.

Ravi Shankar Prasad (@rsprasad) April 26, 20161

Pressing the button will alert police & designated friends/relatives, for immediate response in case of distress or security related issues.

Ravi Shankar Prasad (@rsprasad) April 26, 20162

From January 2018, every new mobile phone will also have in-built GPS system to pinpoint location in the event of harassment or distress.

Ravi Shankar Prasad (@rsprasad) April 26, 20163

Ensuring women security through technology is digital empowerment and an important component of #DigitalIndia4.

Ravi Shankar Prasad (@rsprasad) April 26, 20165

All handsets will also need to be equipped with location-based technology by 2018. Panic buttons will be activated on feature phones by pressing the 5 or 9 key; on smartphones, by pressing the power button three times. Devices sold before the rule goes into effect can be upgraded at service centers. There are already several safety apps designed specifically for women in India6 and ride-sharing apps like Uber and Ola added safety buttons last year7 after several high-profile incidents, including the rape of a female passenger by an Uber driver8.

A release by the Indian government s Press Information Bureau9 said regulators decided a physical panic button is better than an app, however, because a woman in distress does not have more than a second or two to send out a distress message as a perpetrator will often reach out to her mobile phone in the event of a physical/sexual assault. The Ministry of Women and Child Development began advocating the panic button feature two years ago. India has taken several other steps recently to improve emergency responses, including setting a single number 112 for all emergency calls10. This will replace the current system, which requires separate numbers for different services (like 100 for police, 101 for the fire department, and 102 for ambulances, etc.). In some states, there are also helplines specifically to combat violence against women11, which is on the rise in India12. Helplines and panic buttons are a start, but there is no guarantee that they will help reduce crimes like rape. For one thing, about 70 percent of incidents are committed in homes by people known to victims, which makes them harder to prevent. Furthermore, the majority of sexual assaults are still unreported because of stigma and lack of confidence in the criminal justice system13 issues that can t be solved by a button or phone number.

Featured Image: nukeaf/Shutterstock1415

References

  1. ^ April 26, 2016 (twitter.com)
  2. ^ April 26, 2016 (twitter.com)
  3. ^ April 26, 2016 (twitter.com)
  4. ^ #DigitalIndia (twitter.com)
  5. ^ April 26, 2016 (twitter.com)
  6. ^ several safety apps designed specifically for women in India (timesofindia.indiatimes.com)
  7. ^ added safety buttons last year (timesofindia.indiatimes.com)
  8. ^ rape of a female passenger by an Uber driver (www.bbc.co.uk)
  9. ^ release by the Indian government s Press Information Bureau (pib.nic.in)
  10. ^ setting a single number 112 for all emergency calls (indianexpress.com)
  11. ^ also helplines specifically to combat violence against women (www.abplive.in)
  12. ^ on the rise in India (timesofindia.indiatimes.com)
  13. ^ are still unreported because of stigma and lack of confidence in the criminal justice system (www.theguardian.com)
  14. ^ nukeaf (www.shutterstock.com)
  15. ^ Shutterstock (www.shutterstock.com)

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