All mobile phones sold in India from January 2017 must have a panic button enabling the user to call for help, the government has said, amid concern for women’s safety after a series of violent crimes in recent years.
The button would allow users to call emergency services by pressing a single key on their phone.
Keeping a finger pressed on number 5 or 9 on the new mobile phones should trigger an emergency call.
With smartphones, an emergency call must be triggered when the power button is pressed three times in quick succession.
All mobile phones should have GPS
From January 2018, mobile phones must also have a built-in global positioning system (GPS), the ministry of communications and technology said in a statement.
“Technology is solely meant to make human life better and what better than using it for the security of women,” Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said late Monday.
Move to ensure women’s safety
Concern about women’s safety has risen since the fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old student on a bus in Delhi in 2012.
That incident led to an overhaul of India’s rape laws including speeding up of trials and tougher penalties for offenders, but high numbers of assaults persist.
In another high-profile case, an Uber taxi driver was found guilty of raping a female passenger in Delhi.
The latest official figures show 36,735 rapes were reported across the country in 2014, although activists say the actual number is likely much higher with many crimes going unreported due to the social stigma they attract.
Some politicians and police officials have called for women to take self-defence training, to “dress decently” and not to loiter after dark, provoking protests from women’s rights activists.
Online retailers including Flipkart, Amazon India and Snapdeal are selling products they say are aimed at women’s safety.
These include pepper spray, batons, brass knuckles and lipstick stun guns ranging in price from about 200 rupees ($3) to almost 7,000 rupees.
India is the world’s second-largest mobile market and notched up its billionth mobile phone subscriber in October, according to the country’s telecoms regulator.
– NRICafe.com (with inputs from Agencies)