Apple recently released iOS 11, the latest update to its mobile operating system, which introduced a new feature that could potentially be a lifesaver for victims of domestic violence and others who find themselves in need of immediate help. When users click the “sleep/wake button” five times in close succession, the phone will automatically notify emergency services — and any assigned emergency contacts. Being able to notify emergency services without having to unlock the phone could be a potential game changer for women and others who find themselves in a risky situation where they need to ask for help discreetly, such as a domestic violence attack or being threatened on the street at night. Several women on Twitter called on others to update their operating systems and enable the function as soon as possible. “It’s good to know that tech companies have their eye on solutions to counter abuse of women,” said Sarah Green, co-director of End Violence Against Women Coalition in a statement. However, women’s rights organization Collective Shout in the U.K. also sounded a critical tone: “If a woman should be caught trying to utilize this service in a domestic violence attack she may be in even greater danger,” said spokesperson Caitlin Roper. While this is a positive step, she stressed that “a more holistic approach” to addressing domestic violence is necessary.
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