We’ve all heard the statistics. One in three women around the world will experience rape or sexual assault in their lifetime.
Unfortunately, this is just the beginning. Did you also know that:
The startling prevalence of rape around the world has resulted in a slew of products created to “protect” women from sexual assault. Everything from underwear to jeans, condoms and, in this digital age, cell phone apps are being used to help keep women safe.
While some view these anti-rape devices as a triumph in combating violence against women, others think they are pretty ridiculous, even laughable. If you ask me, these devices actually make me angry. Why are we putting the responsibility on women to be prepared for attacks? Many of the products also reinforce myths about rapes occurring between strangers when in reality 73 percent of attacks are perpetrated by someone who the victim knows.
Take a look at the seven examples below and let us know what you think in the comments.
1. Cups With a Screw-On Lid
I don’t know about you but as a woman I have been constantly told to always keep an eye on my drink. I learned this lesson the hard way in college when someone I thought was friendly offered to make me a drink at a party. I took him up on his offer, but naively didn’t think twice about him disappearing into his bedroom to make my drink. After just one drink I was severely intoxicated and to be honest don’t remember much except for the fact that I was with a great girlfriend who got me home safely.
To this day I can’t say with certainty if I was roofied or not but I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case. Luckily I learned my lesson and never let anyone make me a drink again without watching them carefully or just doing it myself.
I’m not the only woman who worries about this; in Canada a bar is selling patrons a cup with a screw-on lid so women can enjoy their night out without worrying about someone tampering with their drink. The manager of the bar, Regina Rooks, says the following about the cups, which she instituted after a couple of incidents of women getting their drinks spiked at her bar:
I want girls to be able to come into our bar in groups of two or three, or if they don’t have dates, they can still come in here and have fun and dance and not have to worry about somebody drugging them.
2. Anti-Rape Underwear, Shorts & Pants
Ruth and Yuval, the founders of AR Wear, are on a mission to offer some peace of mind to women taking an evening run, going on a blind date or traveling in unfamiliar countries. To do so they created a clothing line “offering wearable protection for when things go wrong.” Their anti-rape shorts, underwear and pants can’t be pulled down or pushed aside due to the webbing structure. Wearers, however, can easily get the garments off by turning a tiny lock on the inside.
Ruth, who was nearly raped twice, remembers how quickly her perpetrator ripped down her jeans and underwear when she was attacked. Her hope is that AR Wear will help prevent rapes by: 1) making it more difficult for the attacker to remove a woman’s clothing; and 2) slowing down the attack so that bystanders may have enough time to take notice and help. The ladies launched an Indiegogo campaign to make their product a reality and raised over $50,000.
In addition to the argument of putting the responsibility on women to protect themselves, it’s possible that AR Wear could actually be dangerous for women by frustrating and angering their attacker. While some attackers might give up and move on, rape is about power and control and the frustration caused by these products might result in more violence for women. Sure, their intentions were noble, but this product missed the mark.
3. Female Condom
When she was just 20-years-old, Dr. Sonnet Ehlers, a South African physician, invented Rape-Axe, a female condom with teeth intended to protect women from rape. When a rape occurs, the condom becomes trapped around the attacker’s penis who can then no longer urinate or walk. If he attempts to remove it, the grasp becomes tighter.
The idea is that a woman should wear the condom when going out in an unsafe situation. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Uganda hits the nail on the head with the problem here. Victoria Kaija from the Center says:
The fears surrounding the victim, the act of wearing the condom in anticipation of being assaulted all represent enslavement that no woman should be subjected to.
I couldn’t agree more.
Many have coined India the “rape capital of the world.”
Students Diksha Pathak, 21, and Anjali Srivastava, 23, have come up with a way to combat this problem with a simple pair of jeans. The red pants the girls have created includes a small electronic button that sends a distress call to the nearest police station when pressed.
The jeans, whose battery lasts for about three months, are available for less than 43 cents. Currently in the testing phase, if the technology proves to be effective, lawmakers are considering expanding nationwide.
Of the devise Pathak says:
We have been thinking of making this device for a long time. My father is often making himself ill with worry each time I am coming home late…These terrible gang rapes of women that we have heard so much about recently shocked me and my colleague to the very core. Hopefully no other women will have to suffer if they are wearing our clothing.
Another group of students in India have created a piece of lingerie to combat unwanted sexual advances. The lingerie comes equipped with a GPS tracking system and a device that emits up to 82 shocks on an attacker when he gropes a woman’s breast. The GPS technology then alerts authorities and relatives.
Frustrated that lawmakers take too long to come up with laws to protect women, these students from SRM University took matters into their own hands. After surveying women and finding that attackers often first grab a woman’s breast, they invented this lingerie to deter perpetrators from advancing further.
Students in India aren’t the only ones trying to combat sexual assault. In Sweden a group of high school students created a belt with a military style buckle to protect women from rape. The belt requires two hands to remove it, which they hope will deter perpetrators from attacking women.
The product was designed as part of a high school entrepreneurship project for school. The girls have sold 300 belts so far and are in talks with partners to expand their business.
7. Circle of 6 App
In the digital age we live in there is an app for just about anything – including combating rape.
Enter Circle of 6, a phone app created by a rape survivor, as part of Vice President Biden’s #AppsAgainstAbuse challenge. The app allows users to program six friends in their circle who can receive a pre-programmed SMS message such as “Call me, I need an interruption” or “Come pick me up, I’m in trouble.” The app also alerts your circle to your location with GPS technology.
The Circle of 6 app was one of two winners in the challenge and has since been downloaded 60,000 times in 27 different countries. India has the second highest number of downloads of the app only after the United States.
So what do you think about these apps? Is it really progress to ask potential victims to be responsible for their own sexual safety? I certainly think not.
Photo Credit: WeNews
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