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Updated 09 June 2015

Students create nail polish that detects date rape drugs

Students from the US are developing a nail varnish that will change colour when the wearer's drink is spiked with a date rape drug.

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A group of students are currently developing a new nail polish that will change colour when exposed to date rape drugs, allowing girls to safely and discreetly prevent potential sexual assault.

The nail varnish, produced under the brand Undercover Colors, is being developed by four undergraduate students from North Carolina State University as a way of enabling young women to protect themselves.

The nail polish is designed to react to date rape drugs such as Rohypnol, Xanax and GHB, discreetly alerting the woman that her drink has been spiked, the company's Facebook page explains. 

Whilst out at a bar, party or club, the wearer of the nail varnish can simply stir her drink with her finger. If her nail varnish changes colour, she will know that something has been slipped into her drink.

Ingredients in common date rape drugs react to chemicals in the nail varnish, causing it to change colour.

The students who are developing the product are all male, but each knows of women who have been sexually assaulted after they were drugged, and felt compelled to do something, the Washington Post writes.

"While date rape drugs are often used to facilitate sexual assault, very little science exists for their detection. Our goal is to invent technologies that empower women to protect themselves from this heinous and quietly pervasive crime."

Stephen Grey, Ankesh Madan, Tyler Confrey-Maloney and Tasso Von Windheim were all specialising in Materials Science and Engineering when they came up with the idea, Ankesh Madan explained in an interview with Higher Education Works

Research and development into the nail varnish is still under way (follow the progress on their Facebook page where you can also find out how to donate) and the team are hoping to engage in extensive market testing before going into full-scale production. 

While many have praised the students for looking for creative solutions to a devastating societal issue, others feel that their approach is all wrong. Jenny Kutner, an assistant editor at Salon.com feels that the onus shouldn't be on the victim to prevent her own rape.

In an interview for Think Progress, Rebecca Nagel from the activism group Force: Upsetting Rape Culture explains that the issue isn't that women need to know whether or not their drinks have been spiked. The issue is that drinks are being spiked in order to make women vulnerable to assault.

Is the nail varnish a brilliant invention or another means to blame the victim? Have your say in the comments below. 

Read more:

Date rape drug detector
South African men believe they are entitled to rape
Bud Light is recalled for being a "date raper's drink"


 
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