Sammy Nickalls
April 28, 2016 5:32 am

India just made an incredible move to impact women’s safety in a major way. One year ago, Uber India introduced a “panic button” app update that would allow riders to immediately notify the police if they feel unsafe. Now, all mobile phones sold in India will be required to have an actual, physical panic button, effective January 1st, 2017.

The new rule, which was set up by India’s department of telecommunications, mandates all smartphones have a feature that alerts the police when the on-off button is pressed three times. In non-smartphones, a panic button must be configured to the number key 5 or 9, according to the Washington Post. Additionally, all phones sold in India must have the ability to identify location via “satellite-based GPS” by January 1st, 2018, according to Business Standard.

Calling the new panic button a “game changer,” India’s minister of women and child development Maneka Gandhi told reporters on Tuesday:

The measure comes amidst a movement that has been happening in India since 2012, when a young female student named Jyoti Singh was fatally gang-raped by six men on a moving bus in Delhi. “Technology is solely meant to make human life better, and what better than using it for the security of women,” Communications and Information & Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told Business StandardWe could not possibly agree more and hope police will be extremely responsive when alerted. Kudos to India for making this active, important step towards keeping women safe — and not in a way that perpetuates rape culture.

What do you think about having a “panic button” required on mobile phones? Let us know in the comments.