To assure safety of women soon all cell phones will come with a dedicated panic button installed. The government is considering introduction of a panic button in cell phones from January 1, 2017.
Last year Union Minister Maneka Gandhi said both existing and new cell phones will be covered under this plan.
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 Gandhi was addressing concerns expressed by Lok Sabha members on the 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.
This feature will allow a person to long press a set of buttons which will send out an alert to the user’s family or friends. The move comes after hectic negotiations by the ministries of women and child development and IT and telecommunications. “This is one of the key projects that will be funded through the Nirbhaya fund set up by the UPA government,” a source said.
For the existing phones, talks are underway and a plan is yet to be finalized. “We are working towards a software that can be downloaded which will have the same function as the panic button. For those with ordinary handsets, we are talking to manufactures so that the user can go to a service centre and get the application for free,” the official said.