Nail paint to detect date rape drugs sparks Twitter debate

Saturday, 30 August 2014 - 5:02pm IST Updated: Saturday, 30 August 2014 - 2:41pm IST | Place: Houston (US) | Agency: dna webdesk
  • Image source: Twitter

Undergraduate students, including one of India-origin, in the US have invented a nail polish that can test a drink to see if it is laced with drugs commonly used in sexual assault cases.

Four undergraduate students at the North Carolina State University have invented the nail polish that can detect date rape drugs inside a drink. Indian-American student Ankesh Madan is also part of the team who invented this nail polish called 'Undercover Colours'.

All a woman has to do, is to stir the drink with her finger. The nail polish will change its colour if it comes in contact with commonly used date rape drugs like Rohypnol, Xanax or GHB (Gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid).

The company is marketing its product with the tagline- 'Choice Matters: The First Fashion Company Empowering Women to Stop Sexual Assault'. 

The company is facing flak from many women on social media who say the product puts the onus on women to protect themselves from getting rape by wearing this or that product.

The innovation sparked a debate on Twitter and Facebook. Many called the invention useful and hailed it. Several detractors who raised the argument that the innovation may further promote rape culture.

 

Undercover Colours also posted on its Facebook page: "Our goal is to invent technologies that empower women to protect themselves from this heinous and quietly pervasive crime.

"With our nail polish, any woman will be empowered to discreetly ensure her safety by simply stirring her drink with her finger," the post read.

Undercover Colors was a finalist at the K50 Startup Showcase, where the team received $100,000 from an investor who saw their product demonstration. They also won $11,250 at North Carolina State's Entrepreneurship Initiative.

The four founders said they all know somebody personally who has been sexually assaulted.

"We were thinking about big problems in our society and the topic of drug-facilitated sexual assault came up," Madan told Higher Education Works.

"All of us have been close to someone who has been through the terrible experience, and we began to focus on preventive solutions, especially those that could be integrated into products that women already use.

"And so the idea of creating a nail polish that detects date rape drugs was born," Madan said.

The product is yet to be launched for sale as it still in the early development. On the official Facebook page of 'Undercover Colours', the inventors have made it clear that launching the product in the market will take them a while as they want to ensure that they develop the product that tests for a comprehensive set of drugs.

Considering a suggestion given to them, 'Undercover Colours' has launched a crowdsourcing campaign to raise funds for the fast and adequate development of the first effective deterrent to drug facilitated sexual assault. The students raised $10,000 from personal donations.

With inputs from PTI

 




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