I have two beautiful nieces, I have a teenage daughter, and I know dozens of teenage girls who will soon be going off to colleges and universities across North America. My niece Sara just graduated from University and if she had a dollar for every time her Aunt Teresa lectured her in recent years about being careful at gatherings, about when and how her drinks were poured, about taking that drink everywhere she went- no matter what, she’d be a rich woman today.
According to a Statistics Canada report that dates back to 1993, about half of young Canadian Women have reported being victims of sexual assault or violence. One recent U.S study estimates 5 percent of female college students are assaulted every year and in many cases date rape drugs like Rohypnol, GHB and Ketamine are involved. The statistics are not accurate though. They are in fact much higher. Many girls don’t come forward to report being victimized for fear of embarrassment or having to go through ugly legal proceedings.
It is fitting that a group of students from North Carolina State University would be the ones developing a clever way for women to protect themselves. Undercover Colors is a nail polish line that not only makes your finger nails look bright and shiny, it helps indicate if your beverage has been spiked with drugs. All you have to do is quickly dip your finger into your drink as if you are stirring it. If the polish changes color that means it has detected date rape drugs.
The students (all male) have been working on the nail polish line for over a year now. They are still in the testing phase; however, they have already caught the interest of investors so we could see the polish on store shelves in the not-so-distant future.
Students are helping students; they are really killing three birds with one stone – they are shutting down the predators, developing their science skills, and creating a business opportunity.
Some feminist groups object to the idea of a roofie detecting nail polish. They argue that is will just add to the ever-growing checklist of steps women have to take to protect themselves when the problem should be dealt with by society as a whole. The feminists go as far as to say the nail polish “reinforces a pervasive rape culture in our society.” At this point it seems that the male researchers are getting a lot of support for their efforts though. They have a Facebook and Twitter page where you can voice your thoughts and express your desire to donate to research and development of the product if you feel strongly about what they are doing.
Nail polish has never been more popular. According to Time Magazine in the United States alone nail polish sales hit a record $768 million in 2012. If women are wearing nail polish anyway I don’t know if you can consider changing brands as women having to add another step to their checklist – we women change brands all the time when it comes to items like nail polish.
Maybe I’m just an over-cautious aunt, mother and friend, but I say kudos and best of luck to them as they work through the testing phase and hopefully move this product on to commercialization.