Date-rape detecting nail polish not the solution

UNDERCOVER COLOUR: A nail polish that changes colour when exposed to date rape drugs has been invented. Women who have had their drinks "spiked" can take action to protect themselves against sexual assault. Photo: Lameez Omarjee

UNDERCOVER COLOUR: A nail polish that changes colour when exposed to date rape drugs has been invented. Women who have had their drinks “spiked” can take action to protect themselves against sexual assault. Photo: Lameez Omarjee

Wits students still feel the need to take extra precautions for their safety, despite the invention of a new date-rape detecting nail polish.

The nail polish changes colour when it is exposed to date rape drugs. It was invented by four students from North Carolina State University. It serves as preventative measure to avoid crimes of sexual assault.

The idea is that you dip your finger inside your glass if you suspect that your drink is spiked. The nail polish will change colour when it comes into contact with either Gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), Rohypnol, or Ketamine. These are commonly used date-rape drugs. The product is still a prototype and the inventors are looking for investors to develop it.

Fun in dangerous times

Third year, BA student, Tayla Prinsloo was excited by the invention. “I feel in today’s society, especially in the way club-life has gone, there is a lot of risk when going out.” As a safety precaution she goes out in a group, “there is safety in numbers,” she said.

We [are] not condoning date rape by using these detectors, we are just taking measures to protect ourselves.

“This detector sounds like a good safety precaution for you especially if you go out alone,” she added. Prinsloo knows of men and women who were drugged and believes that it is each person’s responsibility to protect themselves. “We can’t be accountable for other people’s behaviour. We [are] not condoning date rape by using these detectors, we are just taking measures to protect ourselves.”

First year BSc student, Xiao Liang says that everyone is fearful of being a victim of date rape. When she goes out she never leaves her drink unattended and makes sure no one drops anything inside while passing.

Liang had never heard of the invention before, but thinks it will be effective, especially because nail polish is something a woman can wear every day. She believes it is better to invest in products that protect women from date rape.

A gentleman’s education

Male students who were approached said they were not fearful of being victims of date rape. Wandile Ngwenya, 2nd year BAccSci said, “You never ever meet a guy who says ‘This has happened to me’ so it wouldn’t cross my mind ever.” He has heard of the invention and think it may help in protecting women. But he believes that it’s “more important” to teach men not to rape women. “Then they wouldn’t have to have all these measures in the first place,” he said.

Reabetswe Khumbane, 3rd year BCom PPE, had never heard of the invention but thought it was a good idea. “I’m all for it”, he said. He agreed with Ngwenya in saying that men should also address their behaviour. “Definitely men should be taught not to rape”.

Female student Kanyara Nkera, 1st year BSc biology, said men should be taught not to rape, but “women can’t assume all men are taught well”. Melissa Kabanguka, 2nd year BCom agreed in saying that responsibility was to be shared. “Sometimes we try protect ourselves and take precautions, and sometimes it’s not enough. It would be nice if guys were taught. But not everyone is the same.”

“Women are vulnerable to sexual assault. But it just as easily can happen to men. Both men and women should be aware of it,” said Cardoso. She is opposed to products and safety measures being geared towards women because sexual assault is applicable to both sexes.

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