India has passed legislation that will require mobile phones to have ‘panic buttons’ so women can alert authorities when in distress.
The measure comes as a response to the growing number of rapes and sexual assaults in the country.
“Pressing the [panic] button will alert police & designated friends/relatives, for immediate response in case of distress or security related issues,” said the Indian Minister of Communications, Ravi Shankar Prasad, in a tweet posted on Tuesday.
Pressing the button will alert police & designated friends/relatives, for immediate response in case of distress or security related issues.
— Ravi Shankar Prasad (@rsprasad) April 26, 2016
From January 2017, handsets must be fitted with a panic button activated by the use of numerical keys. By 2018, phones will be required to have a built in GPS system to help locate victims when they send a distress signal.
The Minister of Women and Child Development, Maneka Sanjay Gandhi, has said the law will act as a deterrent to potential criminals. However the ICA has argued that the change will push up the price of phones at a time Indian smart phone market is experiencing considerable growth.
India received international attention in 2012 for a brutal rape-murder case in which seven men were sentenced to death. Later that year, protests broke out in the country after a 23-year old female was gang-raped on a public bus.