Whether you’re a frequent partygoer or you just hit the bar once a month, sexual assault is a stark reality and it can happen to anyone. In the United States alone, a woman is sexually assaulted every two minutes, according to the U.S. Department of Justice's National Crime Victimization Survey. And frequently, a rapist is someone the victim is acquainted with, like a new date who slips a drug into round two of cocktails.
To fight the harrowing statistics, commendable efforts have been made to commercialize anti-date rape products. Last month, Shalom Life reported that Israeli professor Fernando Patolsky, along with Israeli scientist Michael Ioffe, had developed the first reusable Anti-Date Rape Straw. It can sense the two most widely-used date rape drugs: ketamine and gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB). The duo originally introduced their groundbreaking invention at the Nano Conference 2011 in Israel.
And right here in the states, Mike Abramson founded a potentially competitive business called DrinkSavvy. Inspired by his own experience of being drugged while attending a friend’s birthday party, he has been working on a series of products that can detect common date rape drugs and ecstasy, indicating that these types of devices might just become commonplace within the next few years.
Abramson pointed out that the Israeli version of “the ‘straw’ is only disguised as a straw (non-functional), and actually requires the user to take action by sampling a very small volume of the drink and mixing it with a testing solution in the straw. That causes a chemical reaction in the straw that makes the solution cloudy or colored, depending on the drug.”
Earlier reports confirm his statements. So, if you’re distracted by blaring music and dim lights, it’s possible to forget to stir and peer into your glass. With one of Abramson’s offerings, which include plastic cups, glasses, and straws, you can keep your eyes on your hot date (though glancing over as he goes for refills is never a bad idea).
“DrinkSavvy products do not require the end user to test and re-test their drink throughout the night, because the same plastic cup, glass, or stirrer that the user is drinking with is also the indicator itself,” Abramson explained. “This provides continuous monitoring of the beverage because the indicators on our products are constantly in contact with the beverage.”
As a former victim himself, Abramson advises that “any type of preventative measure is not an excuse to be careless. For example, just because one has a home alarm system, this is not an excuse to leave one's doors and windows unlocked. In the end, while anti-date rape products are meant to significantly reduce as much as possible the risk of being drug raped, it is still up to the user to take the normal precautions.”
Both the Israeli straw and DrinkSavvy’s own offerings are expected to hit the commercial market next year. You can follow DrinkSavvy’s progress by visiting its Facebook page.
Though long overdue, they will hopefully save potential victims the trauma of being drugged and sexually assaulted by a trusted acquaintance, friend, or date. No, we’re not completely safe, but the creation and commercialization of these types of products are a good start.
Image: Via Texas Tech University