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Innovative ways to prevent sexual assault

By Brianna Ciniglio Special to the Chronicle

According to the U.S. Department of Justice's National Crime Victimization Survey there are on average 237,868 victims of rape or sexual assault each year. As a response to this issue, a number of products are currently being developed to prevent future sexual assaults.

Four male students from North Carolina State University are in the process of creating a nail polish, entitled “Undercover Colors,” that changes color when it comes into contact with certain date rape drugs such as Xanax, GHB and Rohypnol.

The nail polish has received mixed responses from the public. Some believe that it is an innovative idea, while others, such as a writer from The Huffington Post, have stated that it is “perpetuating rape culture.”

A number of Hofstra University females have shown support for Undercover Colors. “The nail polish is a great idea,” said Snezha Silver, a Hofstra sophomore. “Rape, theft, and murder are things that will just never go away.”

Other Hofstra students like the idea of the polish, but wish it wasn’t necessary in the first place. “It sort of perpetuates the idea that women are never safe when they go out,” said Jessica Ma, a Hofstra sophomore. “I feel like this just gives people a new route to victim blame. ‘Oh, you were attacked? Why weren't you wearing the nail polish?’”

The Undercover Colors’ Facebook page expresses the creators’ aim to develop a product that is empowering for women. “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 page states. “We want to shift the fear from the victims to the perpetrators.”

Another product that has been created for extra precautions is Whistl, a smartphone case that looks to prevent sexual assault.

With the click of a touch-sensitive button, the case may set off a LED/noise alarm, notify the police and the user’s friends, as well as record with video/audio. The case also has a number of safeguards, which will prevent accidental set-offs.

Although these products may be used to prevent sexual assault, Gabrielle Wasserstein, a Hofstra sophomore, pointed out that it is important to always remain aware of your surroundings. “The people that use these products can benefit from them immensely, but I don’t think people should rely on them. They should still be extremely cautious.”

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