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A Wrist-Worn Answer to Sexual Attack?


Science & Tech  (tags: crime, violence, women, world, humanrights, HumanRights, freedoms, 'HUMANRIGHTS!', asia )

JL
- 692 days ago - blogs.wsj.com
As part of a briefing about electronic innovations planned for this year by the department in charge of electronic innovations, the Indian government unveiled early plans for a new device it hopes will reduce crimes against women.It is a watch that can a



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JL A. (276)
Sunday January 27, 2013, 5:35 pm

January 25, 2013, 10:15 AM

A Wrist-Worn Answer to Sexual Attack?

By R. Jai Krishna and Saptarishi Dutta

Thomas Coex/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
The Indian government plans to launch a watch to control crime against women.

Imagine you are walking. Alone. Down a dark street. A man approaches. He gets aggressive. What do you do next?

Look at your watch?

As part of a briefing about electronic innovations planned for this year by the department in charge of electronic innovations, the Indian government unveiled early plans for a new device it hopes will reduce crimes against women. It is a watch that can alert authorities and family members that you feel you are in danger and start filming at the same time.

The initiative was unveiled by Kapil Sibal, information technology minister, earlier this week. He said the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing, a unit within the Department of Electronics and Information Technology, is working on the proposed gadget. The government noted in a subsequent press release that it would be timely given “unfortunate incidents of crimes against women in particular.”

This was an apparent reference to the Dec. 16 gangrape of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student on a moving bus in the center of India’s capital; she later died of her injuries.

The wrist-borne device, Mr. Sibal said, would, upon the pressing of a button, send a text message to the nearest police station as well as pre-selected family members. A global positioning system within the watch would notify them of the wearer’s coordinates.

Mr. Sibal said the government would come up with a prototype by mid-year and then farm the idea out to companies for production. The government has held initial talks on manufacturing the product with state-run telecom equipment maker ITI Ltd., according to the government’s release. ITI’s chairman, K.L. Dhingra, confirmed the discussions to India Real Time: “In case the government decides, we are very much interested to manufacture it.” The watch will be sold in two variants, one for $20, the other for around $50, Mr. Sibal said.

It also will have an inbuilt video that, upon activation, would shoot for 30 minutes, the minister said.

Of course, in an ideal world, long before then, the cavalry would have arrived — in the form of the cops and family to save the day.

But how realistic is that?

Not very, say women’s safety advocates. And the government’s track record in previous electronic innovations isn’t exactly encouraging.

Activists say that the device may be better than having no device at all. But the ability to alert authorities is only one tiny piece of a much larger puzzle about the responsiveness of the police to sexual assaults.

For instance, many women’s advocates complain that cops are reluctant, in general, to register rape and other sexual-assault cases that are presented to them in the police station by victims. Are they likely to rush to the aid of every possible victim that sends an SMS? Perhaps a watch that changes mindsets would be more effective.

“I don’t think this will make any difference in controlling rape cases,” says Sehba Farooqui, a woman’s rights activist in Delhi.

Then there is the question of the government’s ability to deliver on its promises regarding both women’s safety and technology.

In the wake of the Delhi rape, a new hotline was established by the local government for women to report sexual assault to the police. But, that, too, has had its share of technical glitches. The calls sometimes go unanswered or attendants are slow to pick up.

The government also has struggled to deliver on a low-cost tablet, known as Aakash, that Mr. Sibal and others made much of in the prototype phase.

Still, the effort may be of some value. Mr. Sibal noted that, with the same technology, parents would be able to keep tabs on their children.

Corrections & Amplifications: K.L. Dhingra is the chairman of telecom equipment firm ITI Ltd. An earlier version of this post incorrectly referred to him as K.S. Dhingra.
 

David C. (29)
Sunday January 27, 2013, 5:59 pm
Let hope this works and will sold at a very low cost!
 

Terry V. (30)
Sunday January 27, 2013, 6:00 pm
What a pathetic world we live in :(
 

JL A. (276)
Sunday January 27, 2013, 6:25 pm
You cannot currently send a star to David because you have done so within the last week.
You cannot currently send a star to Terry because you have done so within the last week.
 

Kit B. (276)
Sunday January 27, 2013, 7:45 pm

In an "ideal world" that watch-alarm would not be necessary. This however, is not an ideal world. I hope too that is not expensive, that cities buy them and give them out to all women.
 

JL A. (276)
Sunday January 27, 2013, 8:01 pm
You cannot currently send a star to Kit because you have done so within the last week.
 

John B. (122)
Sunday January 27, 2013, 8:14 pm
Thanks J.L. for the post. After reading this I fully agree with what the women’s safety advocates had to say. What really needs to happen is a massive education program from the Indian Government to change the culture and attitude towards women in that country. read and noted.
 

JL A. (276)
Sunday January 27, 2013, 8:43 pm
You are welcome John. I'm sad to say I must agree with you--people often hope technology will solve problems but there has to be training or other shifts in perspectives so the technology can actually do what is desired.You cannot currently send a star to John because you have done so within the last week.
 

Giana Peranio-Paz (394)
Monday January 28, 2013, 12:51 am
Sounds promising and I hope it is not expensive, so every woman would be able to afford it. It is a quicker solution than education John. What can we do? This is our reality.
 

Mari 's (1364)
Monday January 28, 2013, 5:27 am
I hope it works and maybe even make men think twice before attacking. What about the women that can't afford 20 or 50 dollars though to buy this watch? Donations?
 

JL A. (276)
Monday January 28, 2013, 7:00 am
You cannot currently send a star to Giana because you have done so within the last week.
You cannot currently send a star to Mari because you have done so within the last week.
 

Ro H. (0)
Monday January 28, 2013, 7:43 am
ty
 

Joanne Dixon (40)
Monday January 28, 2013, 8:31 am
This should be available world wide. And yes, attitudes are Important. And widespread use of a device like this would rapidly show up what local attitudes are.
 

JL A. (276)
Monday January 28, 2013, 8:33 am
You're welcome Ro
You cannot currently send a star to Joanne because you have done so within the last week.
 

Dana W. (9)
Monday January 28, 2013, 8:40 pm
Sounds like an easy answer to a terrible problem, but in a country where so many live in poverty, $20 might as well be $1,000. What's to stop men from targeting and attacking women who DON'T have the watch? Or cutting it off and getting rid of or destroying it? Change will come when the government, police and men in general refuse to turn a blind eye and mete sever penalties for rapists. Maybe castration?

The youngest attacker of the poor 24-year old woman who was brutally raped and attacked will only serve about 3 years in prison because of his age (17), even though he was one of the worst offenders.
 

D D. (102)
Monday January 28, 2013, 9:01 pm
Well, its a quick, temporary semi-solution to a very real and dangerous problem. What the Indian government fails to realize is that there needs to be someone on the receiving end of the request for help 24/7, and I'm referring to the police station. Also, how well are the Indian police trained to handle such a case? And, do they have any woman police officers, or detectives on staff, who might be a little more sensitive in dealing with this type of attack? I'm doubtful that they do, but hopeful that the Indian government will address that in the near future.
 

JL A. (276)
Monday January 28, 2013, 9:19 pm
You cannot currently send a star to Dee because you have done so within the last week.
 

pam w. (191)
Monday January 28, 2013, 9:34 pm
So many millions of women in India...how can this be feasible?
 
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