From the Bhanwari Devi rape case in 2011 to the rape of a 22 years old journalist in the Shakti Mills of Mumbai in 2013, the traumatic experience of the 71-year- an old nun at Ranaghat, West Bengal in 2015 and the brutality that Nirbhaya faced on the ill-fated date of 16th December 2014 – all these gruesome incidents point their fingers towards the pitiable condition of women’s safety in India with each passing day.There has been a significant rise in the toll of rape cases registered- from 15000 (in 2001) to 25000 (in 2013), excluding unreported cases. The Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi, Manish Sisodia, has urged the engineering students to come up with innovative ideas and develop ‘technology with a cause’ – the Delhi Government has promised to provide complete financial support to the brightest ideas, focusing on women’s safety. NASSCOM, an Indian trade group, admired worldwide for their innovative business practices, had also conducted a contest to attract ideas from all the corners of India, regarding how to develop women-friendly apps and products, that would ensure their safety in times of distress.
Engineers, tech-geeks and socially responsible beings from all over the world have already come up with quite a few interesting way-outs to deal with the third most committed crime in the world, that is, sexual assault of women. These attempts can be categorised broadly under three categories : Apps, Products and Wearable Devices.
Apps: Many mobile apps have been developed that can be installed on your smartphones, so that they can keep you connected to your near and dear ones, even while commuting alone in the dead of the night. The gruesome torture that Nirbhaya went through made Delhi Police aware about the need of a one-touch function, that could send distress signals to the emergency contacts in the phone of the victim, as well as the patrolling police van and local police station, leading to the birth of “Himmat” app. The user has to download this app and register the number on Delhi Police’s website. They will send a One-Time Password(OTP) to confirm your mobile number. While travelling through an unsafe area, the user can click the SOS option on the app- it will generate an alert signal, along with transferring the location information and the audio video footage of the area, in which the user is present, so that the police can track the place soon and save the user.
Delhi Government laid the foundation stone, which was followed by a wide range of these safety apps with various names and modified features,keeping the basic features intact,like GPS tracking, detection of safe and unsafe areas over the map, ways to send alerts to emergency contacts and local police, and scream alarms(that sometimes work wonders to make the attacker nervous as the greatest fear for any criminal is the fear of getting caught. Apps like VithU, Raksha, Bsafe, SafetyPin etc. are just a few,that can actually become a distressed woman’s true friend in the odd hours on roads, public transports and even at workplaces.
Products: This category has innumerable products to mention- ranging from stun guns, lipsticks , pens and even nail colours, to the utter surprise of the readers.
Stun guns: There are various types of stun guns available in quite unbelievable shapes and sizes. They come as pocket-sized guns and even hidden under the lucrative covers of lipsticks, torches and even mobile phones. These stun guns can be really helpful if the attacker has come too close to you- it has the power to generate a shock of 250 million volts into the attacker’s body with a strong flash of light, rendering him immobile without killing or permanently injuring him/them, via Neuromuscular Incapacitation (NMI) technology. The Guard-Dog Lipstick Stun Gun packs three million volts along with a 100-lumen flashlight, that can even blind the attacker. The cell phone stun guns have both the options of generating high voltage shocks as well as strong blinding flashlights, to help the user according to her own convenience.
Types of Stun-guns
Pens: Pens that are capable of writing as well as fighting, can be equally effective in ensuring woman’s safety. There are some pens, which have an SOS button and a hidden camera – the user can click on the SOS button, which will automatically start the recording in the camera so that it can be used as an evidence during the trial at court. Another category of pens, equipped with self-defense qualities are called the tactical pens, mainly popularised by the award-winning knife designer Allen Elishewitz. These are high-tech writing instruments with a stylish design- all the parts of the pen, including the crown of the cap and the pointed butt, can be used as a disabling agent by putting pressure with it on the throat, armpit and behind the ears of the attacker. The pen point can also be penetrated into the soft tissues of the throat,chest and abdomen to momentarily immobilise the attacker.
Nail Colours: A brainchild of a few undergraduate students of the North Carolina State University, Ankesh Madan, Stephen Grey Tasso Von Windheim and Tyler Confrey –Maloney – the Undercover Nail Colours can actually detect the presence of date rape drug like Rohypnol,Xanax and GHB(Gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid) in drinks with a change in colour of the nail polish. Along with pepper and chilly sprays, these are great add-ons to the set of women safety products.
Wearable Devices: The most appreciable initiative by the wearable technology is the manufacturing of wearable devices for women that can further make women stronger to fight their opponents of the opposite sex.
Trendy Tech Jewellery: Professional women who see their new clients alone face the daily risk of stalking,bullying and even domestic sexual violence(including marital rape) can use these fashionable bracelets or pendants, with a small circular device attached to them, generally known as SAFER. It has an app-based feature,performing all the necessary activities done by a safety app. Some of the major jewellery wearables popular worldwide are Stiletto, Artemis, Safelet, Cuff-Smart jewellery, React Sidekick, to name just a few.
Hairclips: Hairclips are also a part of this set of wearable devices- the device contains gyroscope and accelerometer, which detects physical assault and immediately signals your phone to call for help, along with recording the happenings in a pin-hole camera. Another product named “React Sidekick” is a wearable Bluetooth device, paired with a safety app.It can be worn on a hair clip, keychain or any other snap hook and can be activated by pressing the emergency button.
With the ongoing advancement of science and technology, that day would be not too far when technology will empower women in such a way that no criminal could ever think of molesting a woman – these apps will instil courage into every girl’s and every woman’s ‘DNA’ with the hidden slogan – “Dare Not Attack”.