Experimental Nail Polish Could Help Combat Date Rape

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Four college students at North Carolina State University have created a novel solution to the date rape problem that continues to be the scourge of many college campuses, using their engineering know-how to create a nail polish that changes color in the presence of date rape drugs like Rohypnol and GHB.

When slipped into a drink, compounds like the above are difficult to detect due to their odorlessness and lack of color. But a woman wearing the nail polish would only have to dip a finger into her drink to know if she's putting herself at risk, CBS reported.

"Through this nail polish and similar technologies, we hope to make potential perpetrators afraid to spike a woman's drink because there's now a risk that they can get caught," the students wrote on their Facebook page. "In effect, we want to shift the fear from the victims to the perpetrators."

The product, which the students plan to bring to market after further testing, won the entrepreneurship-oriented Lulu eGames competition this past spring. They've called it Undercover Colors and describe the project as "The First Fashion Company Empowering Women to Prevent Sexual Assault.""While date rape drugs are often used to facilitate sexual assault, very little science exists for their detection," the students wrote on Facebook. "Our goal is to invent technologies that empower women to protect themselves from this heinous and quietly pervasive crime."

Nevertheless, the project has been criticized in some corners for purporting to be a quick-fix solution while, in reality, only serving to strengthen the status quo.

"I really wish that people were funneling all of this ingenuity and funding and interest into new ways to stop people from perpetrating violence, as opposed to trying to personally avoid it so that the predator in the bar rapes someone else," Alexandra Brodsky of anti-sexual violence campaign Know Your IX told ThinkProgress.

"As a woman, I'm told not to go out alone at night, to watch my drink, to do all of these things. That way, rape isn't just controlling me while I'm actually being assaulted - it controls me 24/7 because it limits my behavior," said Rebecca Nagle of activist group FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture. "Solutions like these actually just recreate that. I don't want to f***ing test my drink when I'm at the bar. That's not the world I want to live in."

On the other hand, ThinkProgress commenter Tessa Ann Moore aptly summed up the opposing viewpoint, in support of the nail polish: "Wow, talk about missing the point. Adding a tool for women to protect themselves is not misguided. That's like saying we shouldn't lock our doors because teaching people not to steal your things is more important."

The students behind the product are currently raising money to continue its development.
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