Womens’ safety raises far more questions in the country than any other issue. Following the sexual assault and murder of Esther Anuhya, while the techie was returning alone to the city after a Christmas vacation spent with family, the Mumbai police has been under immense pressure to prevent such crimes. On the occasion of International Women’s Day on Saturday, the Mumbai Police launched a free SMS service to ensure the safety of women travelling alone or in odd hours.
Under ‘Travel Safe When Alone’ initiative, any women before taking an auto rickshaw or taxi could message the registration number of the vehicle to a dedicated helpline number ‘9969777888’. Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria informed that the police will keep the track of the vehicles that the woman is taking and would get her location through GPS.
While the woman will get an acknowledgement once she sends the SMS, the “message service would act as a deterrent which would discourage taxi and auto drivers from taking to crime”, Maria said.
Jointly started by telephone and internet provider MTNL, the service is a free-of-cost one, and will be very useful in detecting a case, in case the woman traveller goes missing. The police commissioner also informed that the Mumbai police will have the capacity to store up to one crore messages for until a year.
A request is being made to the RTO to display the helpline number compulsorily on the dashboard of autos and taxis. Also, a help desk would be set up outside important railway stations to facilitate availing taxis and autos for woman and senior citizens.
GPS tracking, a dedicated helpline number and a free SMS service is possibly the best use of simple technology to ensure women’s safety. If you are in Mumbai and have had a chance to try the service, do let us know your experience with it.
The need of the hour is to implement this in every city.