Indian government developing GPS watch to help prevent sexual violence

india new delhi rape

Covered by the India Real Time blog of the Wall Street Journal recently, India’s Department of Electronics and Information Technology is working on a wristwatch that could help significantly reduce the volume of rape incidents within the county. Developed in response to the death of a 23-year-old woman that was brutally raped by five men on a bus in New Delhi during mid-December, the watch prototype will allow women to press a single button in order to alert friends, family members and the local authorities about an impending attack.

india crimes on womenSpecifically, the watch would send the call for help through a text message service and the message would include the current GPS coordinates of the wristwatch. The watch owner will be able to select a specific set of people that will receive that communication.

In addition, the device would utilize a built-in camera to record up to thirty minutes of video in order to preserve evidence of a possible attack. If positioned correctly, the camera could capture important details such as the face of a potential attacker, identifying clothing and the voice of an assailant. 

According to information technology minister Kapil Sibal, the prototype will be completed by the middle of 2013 and the watch will cost between $20 to $50. Members of the Indian government have already started to discuss manufacturing details with local companies. The final version could be available by the end of the year depending on the complexity of the design. 

After the tragic incident in New Delhi, the government created a hotline that would allow women to report incidents of sexual assault to the police. However, the launch of the service was problematic and there have been complaints of non-responsiveness. Critics of police departments within India are reluctant to believe that the watch will help police officers locate and help rape victims expediently, but do believe the presence of the recording device on a woman’s wrist could deter an attack before it begins.