NEW DELHI: Women in distress can now just dial 9 for help. Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi has got mobile phone companies on board for providing this special facility.
Sources in the Ministry said the handsets with this facility would be available by March next year. Mandatory regulations in this regard would be issued by the Department of Telecommunications soon, they said.
In future, this enhanced feature can be installed both in new and existing mobile phones. The sources said that initially the Ministry had mulled installing an app in mobile phones. But, since many people in rural areas do not have smart phones, they had decided on the ‘number 9’ feature.
Maneka said: “It took us one year to finalise this initiative. We held several meetings with mobile companies and they have finally agreed to provide panic buttons in mobile phones.” “If a woman feels she is in trouble, the only thing she has to do is press that button and it will immediately send a message to the police,” she said. While new handsets will come with this in-built feature, customers will be able to upgrade their existing phones at dedicated centres. Mobile phone companies have been asked to build at least 10,000 centres across the country to facilitate mobile phone users in upgrading their phones and adding the button. The companies are working on a technological solution for existing as well as future phones.
Some of the other measures being taken by the Ministry include a National Women Helpline number that will be common throughout the country .