As part of a wider campaign to increase the safety of women given growing concerns about sexual violence in the country, India’s Telecommunications Ministry has said all mobile phones sold in the country from 2017 must include a panic button, and from 2018 phones will also have to include GPS navigation systems.
Officials are also looking to introduce a centralised emergency number this year. Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said ‘Technology is meant to make human life better and what better than using it for the security of women’.
The National Crime records show 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% over the previous year.
It is not yet clear how the panic button will work but it is likely to allow customers to call the emergency services by pressing a single button or pressing the power button several times in succession.
Safety for women has been at the top of India’s political agenda since the fatal gang rape of a medical student age 23, on a bus in Delhi in 2012 sparked new anti-rape laws.