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India to introduce ‘panic button’ in phones starting 2017

SAMAA | - Posted: Apr 27, 2016 | Last Updated: 6 years ago
Posted: Apr 27, 2016 | Last Updated: 6 years ago

phone ban

New Delhi, INDIA – The Indian telecommunication ministry has announced all mobile phones sold in the country 2017 onward must include a panic button.

Indian Minister for Communications and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad tweeted on Tuesday, saying the idea is to help women in emergency situations.

The initiative is an effort to curb the increasing incidents of violence against women in the country. The minister further added:

Furthermore, he said, from 2018, phones will also have to include GPS navigation systems.

India does not have a centralised emergency number but officials are looking to introduce one before 2016 ends. Prasad said: “Technology is solely meant to make human life better and what better than using it for the security of women?”

The National Crime Records Bureau said there were 337,922 reports of violence against women, including rape, molestation, abduction and cruelty in 2014, including 36,000 rapes, a rise of 9% on the previous year’s figures. It is likely that the real incidence of rape is much higher than official figures suggest.

However, it is not yet clear how the panic button system will work but it is likely to allow customers to call the emergency services by either pressing a single button or by pressing the power button several times in succession.

Briefly explaining how the system is supposed to work, Prasad said in his tweet the emergency system will alert friends, family and security agency to reach wherever help is needed.

Twitter reacts

Some people are appreciating the initiative of the ministry…

… while others are curious to learn how the system will work, and wondering whether the initiative will help address the causes for the rise in violence against women.

Women’s safety has risen to the top of the political agenda in India since the fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old medical student on a bus in Delhi in 2012 sparked new anti-rape laws in the country.

Rape cases that have shocked India

21 December 2015: Seven men sentenced to death for the brutal rape and murder of a Nepalese woman who was undergoing treatment for depression

23 January 2014: Thirteen men held in West Bengal in connection with the gang rape of a woman, allegedly on orders of village elders who objected to her relationship with a man

15 January 2014: A Danish woman is allegedly gang-raped after losing her way near her hotel in Delhi

17 September 2013 : Five youths held in Assam for allegedly gang-raping a 10-year-old girl

4 June 2013: A 30-year-old American woman gang-raped in Himachal Pradesh

30 April 2013: A five-year-old girl dies two weeks after being raped in Madhya Pradesh

16 December 2012: Student gang-raped on Delhi bus, sparking nationwide protests and outrage. – Agencies/SAMAA

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