Nail polish detects roofies in drinks

While the nail polish idea is getting a lot of notice, sexual assault prevention advocates say ideas of this nature are often misguided and more needs to be done to change the culture that allows sexual violence. (Thinkstock)

WASHINGTON — Students at North Carolina State University have come up with a way for women to defend themselves from date rape — a nail polish that changes colors when it’s exposed to date rape drugs.

When a woman wearing the polish uses her finger to stir a drink, the polish changes color if the drink has Rohypnol, Xanax or GHB in it, the Triangle Business Journal reports.

Undercover Colors, a chemistry startup by four male students, won $11,000 in the Lulu eGames this spring. The contest challenges students to come up with solutions to real-world problems.

The company has raised $100,000 from one investor, and is working on raising more funds to refine its prototype.

On its Facebook page, Undercover Colors says its goal is “to invent technologies that empower women to protect themselves from this heinous and quietly pervasive crime.”

Sexual assault prevention advocates say that while the nail polish idea and other anti-rape tools are well-meaning, they don’t get to the heart of the issue, changing a culture that allows sexual assaults.

“I think that anything that can help reduce sexual violence from happening is, in some ways, a really good thing,” Tracey Vitchers, the board chair for Students Active For Ending Rape, told ThinkProgress.

“But I think we need to think critically about why we keep placing the responsibility for preventing sexual assault on young women.”

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