Starting next year, every single new mobile phone in India must feature a panic button, along with GPS, to help keep women safe. This decision was made in response to the rampant sexual assault and other abuses Indian women face in the country, which have gained worldwide attention in recent years.
The announcement made by the Ministry of Communications and Technology revealed that cell phones in the country must be equipped with GPS and a panic button starting in 2018. Sexual assault has received increased attention in the country late. The horrifying case of a woman who died after being gang raped on a bus in 2012 and an Uber driver assaulting a female passenger just last year are only a few examples of the violence women face – and the need for more security.
Phone manufacturers, including Apple and Samsung, reported they were on board with the change in December 2017. In a country with one billion mobile phone users, this new panic button implementation could mean fewer victims, yet the country’s rural areas still present a challenge to some women having access to the technology. Maneka Gandhi, India’s Minister for Women and Child Development reported her collaboration with the Prime Minister on the project, “We finally managed to get the panic button. We have been working on it over the last two years.”
According to Reuters, the panic feature can be activated on smartphones by quickly hitting the power button three times and for other mobile phones holding down the five or nine key will initiate the process. While the feature certainly is not the end resolution to such a systemic problem, it at least offers some extra protection to women in a world with so many dangers.