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Crimes AGainst Women

Nail Polish that Detects Date Rape Drug in Drinks

Nail polishIt is an unfortunate aspect of our society that predators find ways of incapacitating victims with things like date-rape drugs added to drinks. But there is an enterprising group of students who have created a quick way to test for drugs in drinks - nail polish! This from PSFK newsletter:

Undercover Colors allows women to find out if their drinks have been tampered with by just dipping their finger in it.

It is an unfortunate problem in our society that there is a practice of slipping drugs into someone’s drink in order to lead them away and sexually assault them while they cannot consent. They can be employed in any situation, whether at a bar, a party, or even in a person’s own home. Now, women can test their drinks before taking a potentially drugged sip just by dipping their manicured finger in it.

A group of students North Carolina State University, Ankesh Madan, Tyler Confrey-Maloney, Stephen Grey and Tasso Von Windheim, have created a drug-sensitive nail polish called Undercover Colors. The product changes color when it comes in contact with some of the more popular date-rape drugs. GHB, Rohypnol or Xanax will cause the chemical change indicating there is something extra is in the drink, though it may not be sensitive to other drugs or chemicals. They have been looking for potential investors, but have over $100,000 from both an interested investor and money they won from a competition.

There are other date-rape drug identifying supplies, including drug-sensitive coasters, (DrinkSafe Date Rape Coaster ) and cups and straws that change colors and other types of testing kits such as the Date Rape Drug Detection. The coasters are available for purchase at $5 USD each while the cups and straws should be available within the next year.

The ultimate question is why this nail polish needs to exist? The answer may seem obvious — because women are constantly worried about having drugs slipped into their drinks which can lead to being led away, raped and possibly even murdered. What this nail polish, and other drug testing paraphernalia, does is put the responsibly on the potential victim to find drugs rather than trying to stop the aggressor from placing drugs in drinks. Critics say that not only is it putting the burden on women but it is detracting from the real issue of sexual violence and assault.


Wearables that Want to Keep Women Safe

This article by Rebecca Hiscott is reprinted in its entirely because the ramifications are so important to protecting women from assault:

In December of 2012, a 23-year-old New Delhi woman and her 20-year-old male companion were returning home from an evening movie when they were lured onto a bus by a group of young men. The six men proceeded to beat the man into submission and take turns raping the woman, who eventually died from internal injuries sustained during the brutal attack.

Half a world away, in Amsterdam, Herman Veenstra was sickened by the news. Reading a Dutch newspaper article about the event, he was struck by a passing mention that in Amsterdam an average of two women each day report a sexual assault, and that police estimate the actual incidence of sexual assault is much higher.

"I was shocked by the statistic, but I was even more shocked when I realized this is not publicly known," Veenstra said. "The media doesn't write about these incidents on a daily basis. Apparently it's not worth an article anymore."

That same week, Veenstra's daughter gave a presentation at her school arguing that women in Amsterdam should be allowed to carry self-defense sprays like Mace, which is currently not permitted.

The two events prompted Veenstra, the CEO and cofounder of Dutch tech startup Everfind, to consider how technology might be able to give women a swift and legal way to call for help during a violent assault. He and a team of eight engineers, app developers, and marketing experts began to develop Safelet, a $129 connected bracelet that lets the wearer send out an alert to friends, family, and police during an attack. It's currently collecting funding on Indiegogo.

The device uses a Bluetooth low energy connection to sync to an app on the wearer's smartphone. The app lets the wearer decide who she wants to notify in case of an emergency: friends, family members, the police, or the "Safelet community," a group of Safelet users who agree to field emergency calls from other wearers. To activate the Safelet, the wearer must press two buttons, one on either side of the bracelet—a feature designed to cut down on false alarms, Veenstra said.

When the device is activated, the user's "guardian network" is notified of an emergency. Meanwhile, the app activates the user's smartphone microphone to record the incident. The app can also transmit the wearer's location and a recording of the incident to the police; in that case, one of the wearer's "guardians" would also call the police and indicate the location of the attack.


The geolocation feature is of particular importance in Europe, Veenstra said. Currently, emergency services in Europe are not permitted to use geolocation to zero in on a caller's location, meaning it's up to the caller to provide that information.

"If you call the police, the first question they will ask is, 'Where are you?'" Veenstra said. In the United States, in contrast, 911 operators can immediately pinpoint your location when you place an emergency call.

Safelet is hardly the only protection-oriented item out there. The wearable technology market could be worth as much as $5 billion this year, according to some estimates, and so far that market has concentrated mainly on smartwatches and fitness trackers. But now, a new crop of wearables is surfacing, and they’re taking aim at the largely underserved personal safety market.

There's First Sign, which offers a $95 hair band or hair clip that use a built-in gyroscope and accelerometer to detect head impacts indicative of physical assault, then activates a microphone that records the incident while the wearer's smartphone puts out a call to the police. There's Cuff and Artemis, two competing lines of connected jewelry pieces that sync with a user's smartphone via Bluetooth to alert police and family members when the wearer encounters danger. There's Bembu, a FitBit-like bracelet currently fundraising on Indiegogo that promises similar safety functions, although its clumsily-executed campaign page doesn't inspire much confidence.

And there are a slew of others, with more likely to come. Not only are safety-oriented gadgets a lucrative new space—the Yellow Jacket, a stun-gun iPhone case, recently leveraged a successful Indiegogo campaign into a booming business—they're also serving a real and pressing need.

"A woman would most likely carry [pepper spray] in her handbag, but at the moment of an incident, it would be difficult for her to reach into her bag." Veenstra said. Safelet, like similar safety gadgets, was designed to be easier to access than a smartphone or a can of pepper spray, which would likely be out of reach during an assault.

Of course, these products can all be worn and used by men, but most of them are designed and marketed to women. But the reason for this is obvious: In most countries, women are overwhelmingly the victims of violent crimes, and street harassment is largely directed toward females as well. 

Safelet is an ambitious and much-needed product, but, like any device that relies on crowdfunding to spread the word (including other safety-oriented wearables) its main hurdle will be adoption. Will women feel inclined to purchase and sport this $95 hair clip or that $129 bracelet? By that measure, Cuff, with its range of jewelry options at a number of price points, might have the best chance of scaling up, even though its functionality is relatively limited.

But there's another, perhaps more pressing problem with these devices: They're being produced by startups. Discoverability is one thing, but the mechanics behind any startup are dicey, prone to unexpected costs and challenges that a small, perhaps amateur team can't always handle. When it comes to a personal safety device, any misstep, whether a malfunctioning microphone or an app that's easy to hack, can cost a company its reputation. And crowdfunding campaigns are plagued by the extra hurdles related to delivering rewards and keeping backers happy.

In the case of Safelet, Veenstra insisted that most of the heavy lifting has already been done. The startup has already created a bracelet prototype and has begun designing and testing out the backend functionality of the smartphone app; Veenstra sees the Indiegogo campaign as more of a way to spread the word about the device. "We are more using it to test some marketing tactics in the online space than anything else, because we are already funded," he said.

Everfind has even run the product by Amsterdam's police, who Veenstra said were "thrilled" at the prospect of a product that would allow citizens to participate in keeping the women safe—so long as their actions "fit within the overall framework of how they want citizens to behave.”


Too Young to Wed: The Story of Child Brides

A recent article in the New York Times told of a 6 year old Afghan girl who was going to be married off to the 17 year olf son of a moneylender. Her father coiuld not repay the $2500 loan used for mediacl care for his wife and children. As a result of the story, an anonymous doner stepped in and paid the loan so the girl can stay with her family. She is lucky, despite her continued extreme poverty.

But so many girls from over 50 countries are routinely married off, often to much older men. Manizha Naderi, the executive director of Women for Afghan Women, a group that runs various shelters in the country, told the New York Times in a previous article that poverty is the motivation for many child marriages. That’s either because a wealthy husband pays a family well for his bride, or because the father of the bride will then have one less child to support. “Most of the time they are sold,” Ms. Naderi said. “And most of the time it’s a case where the husband is much, much older.”

Stories like Naghma’s come at a slow but steady clip out of Afghanistan and many other countries, including India. In 2010, two girls, ages 13 and 14, dressed as boys and fled their elderly husbands after refusing to consummate the marriages. They made it far from their remote village, but were eventually caught by police and returned home, where they were publicly, viciously flogged. Authorities did nothing, despite the flogging being caught on tape and human-rights groups’ efforts to intervene.

Here is a trailer for the new documentary "Too Young to Wed" that explains it. Please get involved.


Will Justice Prevail for Nirbhaya?

IMG_2414 STC_2424Four of the six men who lured a 23-year-old student onto a bus and then brutally gang raped her were to be executed as of four days ago and now, two days ago two of the rapists had their sentences stayed.

What is going on?

The Delhi High Court on Thursday afternoon confirmed death sentences for four men convicted of the heinous gang rape and murder of a medical student in the Indian capital. The incident sparked mass protests across the South Asian nation. A fast track court initially sentenced the four men to death in September last year. A fifth accomplice apparently committed suicide in his prison cell, while a sixth — a juvenile at the time of the attack — is serving a three-year sentence in a correction home.  Yet the four men on death row may still appeal to the Supreme Court, and failing that for Presidential clemency.

FAST FORWARD TWO DAYS

But then two days after the Delhi high court confirmed the death penalty awarded to 4 convicts for brutal gang-rape-cum murder of Nirbhaya, the Supreme Court stayed the extreme punishment for two in a special sitting on Saturday after one of them alleged that he was coerced to accept a lawyer chosen by police during trial.

A bench of Justices Ranjana P Desai and S K Singh stayed the HC decision to confirm the death sentence awarded by the trial court on Mukesh and Pawan Kumar Gupta after their counsel, M L Sharma, alleged that the advocate chosen by the police robbed the trial process of fairness. The bench stayed the execution of sentence till March 31.

On Thursday, the HC had upheld the trial court's decision to impose death penalty on Mukesh, Pawan, Akshay Thakur and Vinay Sharma. It said the gruesome manner in which Nirbhaya was gang-raped and mercilessly assaulted on December 16, 2012, which led her to death, was a crime that fell under 'rarest of rare' category warranting imposition of death penalty. Another accused Ram Singh had died during the trial.

This is an atrocity!

 

The Dec. 16 gang rape marked a watershed for the women’s movement in India and led to a new anti-rape law, which now makes even stalking and voyeurism punishable crimes


What is Rape Culture?

This article titled What is Rape Culture? offers a great overview of the many societal ways that rapists and rape-think occur.

“Rape culture” is a culture in which sexual violence is considered the norm — in which people aren’t taught not to rape, but are taught not to be raped. The term was first used by feminists in the 1970s but has become popular in recent years as more survivors share their stories.

Check out these sections. It is sobering to think that if anything, things are getting worse with the use of social media to spread vile and shaming messages - but of course also on the other hand, prove rape behavior) Haven't we heard of some of these for years and years?

Anyone Can Be A Rapist

The Idea of "Gray Rape"

"No" Means "Yes"

Victim Blaming

Slut Shaming

Street Harassment

The Myth of Preventing Rape

Anti-Rape Wear

Rape Jokes

The "Friend" Zone

Pick up Artists

Fear of Reporting

False Rape Accusations

The Power of Celebrity

The "Promising Future" Media Narrative

Male Rape

The Lack of Attention in Minority Communities


New Electronic Underwear that Protects Women from Sexual Assault

This just in from CBS news. Let's hope that it works.

 

Engineering students in India have created electronic underwear they claim can protect the wearer from sexual assault.

Two of the inventors Manisha Mohan (left) and Rimpi Tripathy.

The lingerie would deliver electric shock waves of 3,800,000 volts to an attacker and features GPS. The garment can also send emergency text messages to the police. The unusual prototype was created by three Indian students at SRM University in Chennai, who wanted to combat ongoing violence against women.

Play Video

India's women revolt against a culture of rape

The protective underwear, named Society Harnessing Equipment (SHE), purportedly delivers up to 82 electric shocks to a would-be offender when pressure sensors on the item detect unwanted force, according to The Times of India.

"A person trying to molest a girl will get the shock of his life the moment pressure sensors get activated, and the GPS and GSM modules would send an SMS (to the Indian emergency number) as well as to parents of the girl," said one inventor, Manisha Mohan.

Mohan and her two colleagues, Rimpi Tripathi and Neeladri Basu Pal, hope to begin commercial production of the device later this month. The issue of sexual assault in India has remained on the public radar since the December gang rape of a 23-year-old student on a public bus in Delhi. The victim died thirteen days after the attack. The attack sparked mass anger and demonstrations across India.

There have also been two sexual assault-related cases reported by female tourists. In the last three months, the number of foreigners traveling to India has dropped by 25 percent, according to a recent study by the New Delhi-based Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

The number of female tourists has dropped by 35 percent, the study claimed.

© 2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

News Links For on India Gang Rape Trial

Here is the latest news edition from journalist Diego Gambetta who is on the front lines of coverage of the Braveheart gang-rape trial now going on in New Delhi. Diego is currently writing a book on how women can protect themselves from attack. Contact Diego directly for more information.

 

Nirbhaya case: Accused's sister dies; chargesheet in robbery case soon
Hyderabad pays a visual tribute to Nirbhaya

Poorna Jagannathan’s tribute to Nirbhaya: The Jyoti Project


What is Wrong With Ford? What is Wrong With Ford India??

Ford indiaTalk about obscene - A Ford commercial in India shows three bound and gagged women in the trunk of a Ford car as the male driver gives a thumbs up sign.

It is inconcievable to me that in a country that has had demonstrations about Braveheart - the 23 year old woman who was kidnapped, beaten and gang-raped by 6 men and has reports of women's abuse every single day in the newspaper - would think that an ad like this is acceptable. And it is also infuriating. Considering Fords terrible history of anti-semitism with Henry Ford, you would think that they would be especially sensitive. But no.

 Maybe it is time to boycott Ford.


British tourist jumps from hotel window to escape sexual assault

More disheartening news about how women are treated in India - in this case tourists.

AGRA: A British female tourist on Tuesday was admitted in a hospital in Agra in a serious condition after jumping out of her hotel window to escape a sexual assault, police said. Jessica, 25, told police that she was staying in the first floor of a hotel in Agra's cantonment area when "some person" tried to molest her. The tourist, according to reports, has suffered fractured legs and bruises. The accused as been identified as the hotel manager Sachin Chauhan, who has been arrested by the police. This is the second case of sexual assault on foreign nationals in the country in past week.


Earlier on March 15 Swiss couple, camping near Jhadia village in Madhya Pradesh, was looted by seven men allegedly looted and later raped the woman. (With inputs from the Agencies)

 


Using Technology to Protect Women From Rape

IMG_2405We have been reporting on the reported rape epidemic in India in our most recent posts. Finally here is a good piece of news on the subject. Here is an excerpt of a much longer article:

Can a Wrist Watch Really Cure India’s Rape Problem?

by Feb 24, 2013 5:45 AM EST

The Indian government is developing a wrist watch equipped with GPS and a distress button. Can it help fight the plague of sexual violence?

In late January, the Indian government announced a new project to fight the rampant sexual assault cases in the country: a wrist watch. No longer just a fashion statement or functional timepiece, the accessory boasts a built-in distress button that texts friends, family and the nearest police station with the wearer’s GPS coordinates, and a video camera that captures footage when the button is hit.

India’s information technology minister, Kapil Sibal, announced the new development project a month after the brutal rape and murder of a young medical student in Delhi launched nationwide protests calling for change in the dysfunctional methods of addressing sexual violence. The briefing notes describe the project’s goal as “to develop indigenous product leveraging existing mobile spread and availability to cater to the security needs of people.” (Neither Sibal nor the government agency tasked with developing the watch responded to requests for a comment.) The watch is one of many tech-based solutions being crafted to combat rape and sexual assault by governments and tech developers across the globe. But not all activists are convinced this approach will work, and some are questioning how effective technology can be in stopping horrendous sexual assault cases like the one that shook Delhi.

Social media and smart phone software is growing into its potential to bring attention to, and even prevent, sexual assault and rape. Facebook and Twitter have been used to track sexual attacks in war zones like Syria, and to encourage prosecution in cases like Steubenville, Ohio. Hi-tech straws can detect the presence of date rape drugs in drinks. But it is the mobile platform that shows the most potential for combating an endemic of sexual violence across the globe.

Gail Abarbanel, founder and president of The Rape Foundation, one of the country’s oldest rape prevention and treatment centers, described the Indian project as “more like a ‘rape in progress’ alert than it is about prevention,” and says she hopes the government will turn its attention on men. “In so many of these situations, rapes could be prevented but not by the women who’s being sexually assaulted,” she said.  “Everything that’s ever been promoted to prevent rape focuses on the victim.”

Yet Abarbanel doesn’t reject the possibility of utilizing technology to combat assault. The Rape Foundation recently partnered with tech firm Possible to develop Safebook, an app they hope to release by the end of the year. Safebook aims to shift the burden to the friend, the bystander, the person that witnesses assault by creating groups and allowing them to check in on members. Its target demographic is college women, 1 in 5 of whom report being sexually assaulted during their four years on campus. Realizing this susceptible group is spending most of its time in the digital world, the partners hope to use social media campaigns to target them where they’re most comfortable—similar to campaigns that have already been successful for gay rights awareness and bullying.

As activists work on changing mindsets, the Indian government is going technical. The watch is expected to be ready mid-year and is expected to cost between $20 and $50, which is quite steep for a market like India. And in India, not all have been swept off their feet by the announcement. Many believe the country needs to rebuild its foundation of prevention methods. The biggest problem may be the apathy authorities, and even civilians, hold toward sex crimes. One of the most disturbing details to emerge in the aftermath of the brutal Delhi rape came from the woman’s companion, who said the battered pair spent 20 minutes on the side of a busy road before anyone stopped. In Delhi, a new study published by the International Center for Research on Women revealed the startling prevalence of attacks. Almost 80 percent of participants admitted to seeing a sexual assault take place, and only 16 percent said they had intervened. Crimes are rarely reported, especially in the case of young victims. In early February, the director of Human Rights Watch in South Asia announced that children who come forward after sexual abuse “are often dismissed or ignored by the police, medical staff and other authorities.” And just this week it was revealed that Indian police failed to investigate the rapes and murders of three young sisters.

Read the full article here.