All cell phones will soon be equipped with a panic button to assist women in distress, India’s Union minister Maneka Gandhi said on Friday.
Both existing and new cell phones will be covered under this plan, she said.
Elaborating on measures taken by the government on women’s safety, the minister for women and child development told Lok Sabha, “Every cell phone will have an in-built panic button. Now, all new cell phones will be made with panic buttons. But in case of all old cell phones, you can go to the person who owns the company or the dealer and they will adjust it for you. If a woman is in trouble, she can just press the button on the cell phone and she will immediately get help.”
Sources said if the button was pressed for more than a few seconds, it would call a pre-determined number, fed by the user earlier. The WCD and the telecom ministries have begun working on the proposal which is likely to be completed in the next six months.
Maneka was addressing concerns expressed by Lok Sabha members on lack of safety for women and growing crime. The government admitted that the condition of women in India was not good and asserted that a number of steps had been taken to empower them and tackle the challenges facing them, which will result in women doing “much better” in a couple of years.
The minister cited measures, including having special police volunteers in every village, women’s helplines in states and panic buttons in mobiles, being taken in this regard.
According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2015 of the World Economic Forum, India was ranked 108 out of 145 countries, the government said, adding it was an improvement from the 114th position in 2014.
Maneka said the government had set up 10 women crisis centres and planned to increase them to 660 in all districts. The centres provide free medical, legal and police help to women and their activities are monitored daily, she said.