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Mark Bello
Mark Bello
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Putting the Power to Stop Date Rape at a Woman’s Fingertips

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As part of the Lulu eGames competition at North Carolina State University which encourages students to come up with working solutions to real-world problems, four undergraduates invented “Undercover Colors, a nail polish that can detect if a woman’s drink has been spiked with an odorless, tasteless drug such as Rohypnol, Xanax and GHB.

The concept is not completely new.  In 2011, Israeli scientists developed a straw that analyses a small sample of a drink and lights up when it detects the presence of a date rape drug. Last year, DrinkSavvy invented a glass that changes when a drink has been laced with one of the drugs.  The difference between these products and Undercover Colors is that a straw or glass may not be as easily available when needed.  With Undercover Colors, a woman can discreetly stir her drink with her finger. If her nail polish changes color, she’ll know that her drink has been spiked with one of the incapacitating drugs.

While the product is still being tested and unavailable for purchase at this time, sexual assault prevention advocates are warning that it’s not necessarily the best way to approach the sexual assault epidemic on college campuses.  Rebecca Nagle, co-director of an activist group called FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture, said that although well-intended, the nail polish could put the blame on victims.  It would be a woman’s responsibility to wear the polish otherwise if she became a victim of assault, some would say the rape was her fault for failing to test her drink. “It would simply put another burden on women when the real causes of rape are elsewhere,” said Nagle.  According to one of the inventors, they hope to “make potential perpetrators afraid to spike a woman’s drink because there’s now a risk that they can get caught.”

Statistics show that one in five women will be sexually assaulted during her lifetime. We may not know who they are, but these women are not faceless. They are our daughters, they are our girlfriends, and they are our friends.  We must get at the root of the problem – those putting “roofies” in drinks in the first place so women don’t have to worry about things like being date raped.  Until then, I am glad there are people like these young entrepreneurs who are making a difference to help keep more women safe.

What do you think?  Would you buy Undercover Colors for yourself, your college student, or other loved ones?

The students have already raised $100,000 for product development.  If you would like to help support this cause, you can donate to Undercover Colors by clicking here.

Mark Bello is the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company.