New Delhi: Mobile phones sold in India from next January will have to be equipped with panic buttons, the country’s government has said.
And, from January 2018, phones will also have to have a built-in GPS tracking device so they can be tracked.
“Technology is solely meant to make human life better and what better (use) than … for the security of women,” a statement from the ministry of communications and technology explained as the plan was revealed.
An emergency call will be triggered when the user presses a finger continuously on number 5 or 9 on the new phones, the ministry said.
On smartphones, pressing the power button three times in quick succession will trigger an emergency call.
The move follows concerns over women’s safety after a number of violent crimes in recent years.
The fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old student on a bus in Delhi in 2012 sparked nationwide protests and resulted in stronger rape laws.
In another high-profile case, an Uber taxi driver was found guilty of raping a female passenger in Delhi.
India reported 337,922 crimes against women in 2014, including more than 36,000 rapes, a 9% increase from the previous year.
The country is the world’s second-biggest market for mobile phones, with more than one billion users.
However, several villages in the western state of Gujarat recently banned girls and single women from owning mobile phones, saying the devices distracted them from their studies.