Panic Buttons, Technology, and Women in India

Can a ‘panic button’ on a phone really help deter violence in India?

Last April India’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad, announced the government’s order that by 2018 all phones include a panic button and GPS. And this February, pan-India installation of panic buttons was slated to begin. Since then, a debate has raged about whether this is really a step forward to stem the tide of violence against women and girls.

There are a host of technical and access issues, of course. Most phones in India do not include GPS. Feature phones would be reconfigured to accept a single digit ‘alert’ number. Functionality is another issue: in 2016, Indian railways installed panic buttons in the ladies compartments of trains, only for it to be jammed with false prank calls.

But more importantly, do we really need yet another commercial device which serves only to delay the actual work necessary to change male behavior? Why are we dumping yet another burden on women to ensure their own safety? Inquiring minds want to know. 

Speaking: St Pete Conference on World Affairs

I’m looking forward to speaking on three panels at the St Petersburg Conference on World Affairs February 12-15. I’ll be covering some of my favorite topics: Education in Africa (Sub-Sahara Africa Panel on Thursday), the UN (especially the place of UN Women on Friday’s UN Panel), and a look at Violence Against Women (Wednesday).

If you’re in the area, do sign up! These sessions, and many more, are all free and open to the public.

The 2019 St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs is a 3-1/2 Day event with over 30 Panel Discussions held at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. Speakers and panelists include distinguished diplomats, military, media, and academic experts discussing critical international issues of the day at each annual conference.

St Petersburg Conference on World Affairs

#MeToo 2019 – Bookstore1

Professor Philip Wagner, Julie Jennings, Chris Serio Martin, E. Scott Osborne

Crystal ball, anyone? Where is #MeToo going in 2019? Its already morphed considerably from its 2006 foundations (thanks, Tarana Burke,) but what’s next?

Bookstore1 hosted our GulfCoast Chapter (USNC-UN Women) for a Community Conversation Sunday, January 14, to look at #MeToo. With the help of Professor Phil Wagner (our local expert on masculinities!) and Julie Jennings, recently back from six years in South Korea, we tackled this head on.

Clear-cut answers we had few of, but we did have lots of great ideas and great book recommendations for more reading.

Soraya Chemaly: Rage Becomes Her

Kate Mann: Down Girl, The Logic of Misogyny

Robin Deangelo: White Fragility

See here for more great Chapter events!