by Sasha Pei Silovo – EM TV Online
The world’s second-largest smartphone market, India, is increasing efforts to upscale protection mechanisms for women.
This was recently announced by the Indian government through the Ministry of Communications and Technology.
According to a ministry statement, all mobile phones sold in India must have panic buttons installed to enable emergency calls when a woman is threatened by danger, or feels that’she is in an unsafe situation.
This will come into effect in 2017 for all mobile phones sold on the market from January onwards, following growing concerns over the rise in crimes against women.
According to the press release, pressing down number five or nine on a mobile keypad will trigger an emergency call; and for smartphones, the power button should be pressed three times successively to initiate emergency calls.
India has a total smartphone market base of more than 220 million users, according to a recent report from Counterpoint Research.
Thus, prompting the government to push for greater use of mobile technology to enable women to have instant access to emergency services.
This will ensure that emergency service providers respond immediately to women in distress.
Incidents such as the fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old female student on a bus in 2012 and the rape of a female passenger by a cab driver in Delhi gave rise to nationwide protests for harsher penalties for rape offenders.
In 2014, 337,922 cases of violence against women were reported, with an increase of 9 per cent in sexual violence crimes with 36,000 rape incidents reported.
Mobile technology expert Malcolm Vernon in an interview with The Guardian UK in 2014 explained how mobile phones can be used in delivering training materials, support helplines, and automated tracking systems, as per findings from the Work in Freedom project.