Rape-proof underwear is here and you can even film your attacker with it
2017 will go down as the year that millions of women joined together and said #MeToo. Starting the conversation about sexual assault, and acknowledging just how many people it affects on a daily basis, is certainly the first step towards fixing the deep-seated problem. However, one woman in India was recently heralded as being one step ahead when she designed "rape-proof" underwear.
After becoming sick and tired of hearing of a seemingly endless number of rape cases that take place in her country, 19-year-old Seenu Kumari, from Farrukabad, Uttar Pradesh, created a prototype of the underwear. They come fitted with a range of impressive features including a lock, a GPS alert for police and even a video camera to record an attacker's face.
According to statistics, rape is the fourth most common crime against women in India and there have been several high-profile cases publicised by the Western media over the past few years; the National Crime Records Bureau have stated that 34,651 rapes were reported in 2015 across the country. To put this in perspective, the 2016 Uniform Crime Report (UCR), which measures rapes in the USA that are known to police, estimated that there were 90,185 rapes reported to law enforcement in 2015.
The prototype of Kumari's invention has been sent to the National Innovation Foundation in Allahabad for patenting. Speaking about her invention, which she reportedly spent less than $70 producing, the 19-year-old said: "I have put a smart lock that won't open till you key in the password. I have also installed an electronic device that is equipped with a GPS and calling facility. When somebody tries to molest a woman, this device will send out messages to relatives of the woman and also to the police."
She continued: "The cop would be able to arrive at the crime scene following the GPS and foil the rape attempt. A woman doesn't need to wear this underwear always. She can wear it when she is travelling alone or if she finds a place unsafe. This can help save the woman from wicked men who would try to violate her dignity."
Kumari's invention is far from the first device designed to protect women from sexual assault. In fact, there have been plenty of products including anti-rape buckles, anti-rape bras, anti-molestation jackets and anti-rape buzzing devices.
A standout invention in the world of anti-sexual assault devices is the anti-rape female condom, which really sinks its teeth into the battle against rape - literally. Created by a South African doctor, "Rape-aXe" is a condom that features rows of jagged hooks designed to attach to a man's penis during unwanted penetration.
Dr. Sonnet Ehlers, the condom's designer, told CNN back in 2010: "It hurts, he cannot pee and walk when it's on. If he tries to remove it, it will clasp even tighter... however, it doesn't break the skin, and there's no danger of fluid exposure."
The innovative nature of these inventions is a testament to many people's hard work and determination to solve the huge problem that faces some women and men when they step outside their door - or even for some when they're "safe" within their own home. However, there have been doubts over these types of devices in the past, given the fact that you never know when you're going to be sexually assaulted.
Research has estimated that around 90 per cent of those who are raped know the perpetrator prior to the offence. So, are we supposed to wear these inventions on nights out? Or when we're forced to walk home alone Or simply all the time?
However impressive Kumari's invention is, her creation is in no way a solution to the rape problem that is not only in India, but in pretty much every single country across the world. For example, when the BBC interviewed Mukesh Singh, one of the convicted rapists in the 2012 Delhi gang rape case, they collected some quotes which shone a light on the attitudes that some people have towards sexual assault.
"When being raped, she shouldn’t fight back. She should just be silent and allow the rape," he said. "Then they’d have dropped her off after ‘doing her’, and only hit the boy. A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy... A decent girl won’t roam around at nine o’clock at night … Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night doing indecent things, wearing indecent clothes."
These comments show the inner workings of some rapists' minds and represent the bigger picture lurking behind sexual assault. Why is the burden still on women to ensure they don't get raped? Anti-rape underwear is a great idea, but it also is just another way of designing ourselves out of a bigger issue.
The larger problem is the attitude among the people who do these despicable things. And no amount of electric shock underwear, nail polish detecting date rape drugs, or anti-rape condoms is going to stop this. The sooner rapists learn, the sooner we won't have to spend our time creating products like these.