Moral Low Ground


Delhi Police Introduce ‘Himmat’ Mobile Safety App for Women

Indian women offer prayers  for a gang rape victim at the  at Mahatma Gandhi memorial in New Delhi, India. (Photo: Jordi Bernabeu Farrús)

Indian women offer prayers for a gang rape victim at the at Mahatma Gandhi memorial in New Delhi, India. (Photo: Jordi Bernabeu Farrús)

Police in India’s National Capital Territory have introduced a smartphone app aimed at protecting women and girls against rape and sexual assault.

Called Himmat, the app, an initiative of the Delhi Police, was launched by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh amid much fanfare on Thursday. The Times of India reports the app is meant for employed women, students and other females who must travel alone at night.

Himmat is meant to enable women to quickly notify police in the event of an emergency, India Today reports. The app, which is currently only available on Android devices, will allow users to alert a police control room with the press of an ‘SOS’ button or by shaking the phone.

When activated, the app also begins recording 30 seconds of audio and video for possible future police reference. Additionally, Himmat will notify as many as five pre-programmed contacts so that family or friends of women in danger can also take action.

“In this way, not only the police, but the user’s relatives and friends will also be able to come to her rescue,” a senior Delhi Police official said. “The SMS alert is transmitted simultaneously by the PCR to the police patrol cars in the area and the local station house officer through the Delhi Police cyber highway.”

Delhi Police Commissioner B.S. Bassi said Himmat, which can be downloaded for free on the Delhi Police website, will “strengthen women’s safety.”

“This is India’s first official integrated application for women’s safety,” he said, according to the Deccan Chronicle. But critics counter that many Indians, including some of the nation’s most vulnerable women and girls, cannot afford smartphones, and so Himmat is useless to them.

Indian authorities have been accused of not doing enough to stop rapes and sexual assaults against women and girls. Women’s advocates and other critics reacted angrily to the latest outrage, the alleged December 2014 rape of a 25-year-old Delhi woman by a taxi driver, by pointing fingers at government and police officials.

“It makes me very angry that when there is an incident like this, politicians jump in demanding justice and speedy trials, but what the government fails to do repeatedly is, doing its job of ensuring safety of women,” India Progressive Women’s Association activist Kavita Krishnan told the Times of India.

Krishnan said women like the December victim are forced to rely upon taxi cabs due to the failure of authorities to safeguard them on public transit, site of numerous attacks against women and girls.

“Why can’t we get more DTC [Delhi Transport Corporation] buses and why can’t the government pay and groom its staff better to ensure safety of passengers?” she asked.

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