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IN Science & Technology ON 28 Apr, 2016
The crime rate against women has been on a rise for the past few years. Our country is becoming an unsafe place both for the foreigners and for our own countrymen as well. However, the government is now taking things seriously and is now coming up with many initiatives for women safety.
Here is another such innovative initiated by our government which uses technology for the betterment.
Mobile phones, which are sold in India will now be required to contain a "panic button" from Jan. 1 2017, onwards. It is a step and effort of the government to increase women's safety in a country where events of rape continue to rise.
Substantially, feature phones, which are basically phones that don't contain a well-developed operation system like iOS or Android, need to ensure the amenity of a panic button by pressing the numeric key 9 or numeric key 5, which would enable an emergency call. In smartphones, the order states that a customer shall be capable of making an emergency call by just pressing either a "special panic button" for a some time, or use the power button in order to do the same job by pressing the button three times in quick succession.
"It's a game changer," Maneka Gandhi, the minister of women and child development, said after the decision. She further added, "Officials decided that having a physical 'panic button' was faster than using an application for the mobile phone".
Concern surrounding women's safety has become a public agenda in India after the unfortunate gang-rape of a young girl on a moving bus in Delhi, in 2012. It urged protests all over the country. Both the state and central government have enforced laws and order to try and address the issue, with various degrees of success, such as by adding "closed-circuit television cameras" in public spaces, self-defence courses, and help lines and increased gender sensitivity for police training.
The law aims to help improve the security of women and also increase the accountability of all the security forces. "Technology is solely meant to make human life better and what better than using it for the security of women?" said Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad, after signing the order.
However, there's still a question mark whether the panic button will actually make women feel safer at the time of traveling outside their homes. There have been quite a few apps for the same purpose already and also the ideas like shock bras, which are intended to keep women safe. Most people rely on GPS in order to help women and send a distress signal or message to their friends and family. Even the app of Uber allows its customers to send an SOS in the middle of a ride.
While several women, who are middle-class and upper-middle-class can afford to buy the more "sophisticated safety gadgets," and even download such apps, a major part of the women in India, especially those in the tier-2 and tier-3 towns or in rural areas, can't afford these gadgets.
While the government of India might force the mobile manufacturers to keep in mind customer safety and take it seriously, a panic button by itself would hardly be a catholicon. A combined helpline, one which really results due to quick action and a response from the concerned authorities would also be required. Otherwise, one could just keep pressing the panic button all day long.