To ensure safety for women in the coming year, readers write in with solutions using a combination of technology and community participation

The Delhi gang rape incident has shaken the conscience of the country. While government actions like nabbing the criminals and proposing steps like mandatory GPS devices in public transport, round the clock control room for women in distress and a woman IPS officer maintaining direct contact with the victim and her family are welcome, the awareness and anger generated in the public must be channelised to find a permanent solution to women harassment, because many such incidents in our country go unnoticed.

The solution lies in using technology with the participation of the community and the government. The strength of the 120-crore strong population is enough to make up for the shortage of resources to setup surveillance cameras at every nook and corner or police every neighbourhood.

A multifunctional knuckle stun-gun could be an answer to women’s safety in their daily lives. It can be worn on the fingers and so cannot be snatched easily; it is integrated with an alarm system and GPS, which sends the woman in distress’ geo-position to the police control room. A secure website run by National Informatics Centre with the essential details of a person like photograph, name, unique GPS number, address, emergency contact number is the second step.

If a woman travelling in public transport is approached by a person with malicious intent, she can press a button that sets the siren blaring and sends her GPS location to the police, who in turn can collect her details from the NIC website. In the meanwhile, she can temporarily immobilize the attacker with the knuckle stun-gun.

Using mobile phones could be another low-cost solution where the devices will be programmed such that on pressing a specific button, say #, a woman in distress can send her approximate location (the BTS location) to the police control room. If viable, the “woman in distress” message can be broadcasted to all mobile phone users in the BTS location. They can call a toll-free police control room number and give information of any suspicious activity reducing police reaction time further.

The cost of such infrastructure can be substantially reduced with mass procurement and government intervention, thus making it affordable for all sections of the society. This technology-based participative approach can also be used to deal with other crimes against vulnerable sections of the society like the elderly and the children.

The idea is that every criminal should know that women are not vulnerable and his crime would not go unnoticed. In the long term, we must stop female foeticide and infanticide, correct our skewed sex ratio which is leading to practices like molki where women are bought and sold. Such customs further debase the status of women in the society thereby increasing crimes against her.

A BBC had report found that women going for open defecation in rural India were being victimised. Hence, improving the sanitation scenario is another essential task. Last but not the least, there is a need to reinstall the social capital which has lost its way in our daily struggle because such crimes may seem to be isolated incidents but actually are an accumulation of our insensitivity. In a more every day example, do we even care about our fellow citizens – an old person trying to cross the road or a lady whose car is seized on the road? We are always more than ready to blame the government. However, a society gets what it deserves. Let us be more participative in our community life.