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Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014

A new way to prevent date rape

Compiled by Nicole Shepard, Deseret News National Edition

Published: Thu, Aug. 28 4:45 a.m. MDT

(JuNi Art, Getty Images/iStockphoto)

What if preventing date rape was as easy as painting your fingers? Thanks to four North Carolina State University’s undergrads that is a real possibility.

Tyler Confrey-Maloney, Ankesh Madan, Stephen Grey and Tasso Von Windheim have created a nail polish called “Undercover Colors" that turns a different color when exposed to the chemicals found in common date-rape drugs such as Rohypnol, Xanax, and GHB (Gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid).

“To see if one of the drugs has been slipped into her drink, a woman has to stir it with her finger. Not exactly discrete (or good manners or very hygienic), but arguably more stylish than similar inventions, like these coasters, cups and straws, that do the same thing,” The Washington Post’s Gail Sullivan wrote.

The inventors of the polish won an $11,000 contest at NC State. The contest was established to confront the statistic that 1 in 5 women have been sexually assaulted on college campuses. The inventors also found an investor through the contest, who has given them $100,000 to expand the availability of the product.

Undercover Colors’ Facebook page has nearly 40,000 likes and has received support from its subscribers. One fan of the page, Eleanora Passarelli Kattus, wrote, “I think I can confidently say that I speak for moms everywhere, when I say to you gentlemen, thank you, thank you, thank you!”

But not everyone sees the nail polish or similar products as an effective way to confront the problem of sexual abuse and rape.

"I think it reflects the cultural reality where we actually put the blame on women. Often when they are the victims of rape,” Elizabeth Plank, a senior editor at Mic, told Today. “We put the onus on them, to prevent rape, when we very well know that this is not an effective way of actually reducing sexual assault."

“Well-intentioned products like anti-rape nail polish can actually end up fueling victim-blaming,” wrote Tara Culp-Ressler of Think Progress. “Any college students who don’t use the special polish could open themselves up to criticism for failing to do everything in their power to prevent rape.”

Another criticism is that these products distract us from having tough conversations while oversimplifying the problem. Though statistics vary, date-rape drugs aren’t considered the primary substances used to inebriate or control women. The No. 1 substance involved in cases of substance-associated rape is the alcohol itself.

“I think a lot of the time we get focused on these new products because they’re innovative and they’re interesting, and it’s really cool that they figured out how to create nail polish that does this," Tracey Vitchers, the board chair for Students Active For Ending Rape, told ThinkProgress. "But at the end of the day, are you having those tough conversations with students, and particularly men, who are at risk for committing sexual assault?”

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @NicoleEShepard EMAIL: nshepard@deseretnews.com

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1. Shane333
Cedar Hills, UT,
Aug. 28, 2014

I think preventative measures like this special new nail polish are great things. An even more effective preventative measure to avoid rape or sometimes even "buyer's remorse" is to be extra careful about drinking liquor in social settings. Even when not tampered with, liquor can impair a person's judgment.

Of course, none of this is meant to excuse sexual predators.

2. Rural sport fan
DUCHESNE, UT,
Aug. 31, 2014

How utterly sad is it that people actually think that this polish will lead to blaming victims.

"Elizabeth Plank, a senior editor at Mic, told Today. “We put the onus on them, to prevent rape, when we very well know that this is not an effective way of actually reducing sexual assault."

Do we really know this? Knowing your drink is spiked has been proven to not be effective? Great pseudo science, lady.

What is it about these people, that they think a stern talking to will stop predators? Predators will do what they do, all the peer pressure in the world won't stop them. I want every tool I can find in my child's arsenal, and this could be one. Kudos to the folk that developed it.