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Nail Polish Helps To Detect Date Rape Drugs

Graphic by Sam '15
Graphic by Sam ’15

In August, four undergraduate students at North Carolina State University–Ankesh Madan, Tasso Von Windheim, Stephen Grey and Tyler Confrey-Maloney–announced that they had created a nail polish that could help prevent date rape. Though not yet available to purchase, the new nail polish, called Undercover Colors, can detect the presence of date rape drugs in drinks.

With the slogan, “The First Fashion Company Empowering Women to Prevent Sexual Assault,” Undercover Colors’ goal is to help reduce instances of date rape, a serious and widespread issue, mainly among college students. According to the University of the Sciences in Pennsylvania, approximately one in four college women is date raped during her college years.

Undercover Colors co-founder Confrey-Maloney stated in an article from the Washington Post,

“We hope this future product will be able to shift the fear from the victims to the perpetrators, creating a risk that they might actually start to get caught.”

A person wearing Undercover Colors nail polish can test if her drink contains date rape drugs by dipping her finger in the drink. If her nail polish changes color upon contact with the drink, her drink contains date rape drugs. The three most common drugs that the nail polish recognizes are GHB, Rohypnol and Xanax.

Although the Undercover Colors polish detects some of the most commonly used date rape drugs, doctors note that there are many more date rape drugs that the nail polish cannot detect and suggest that women should not rely on a nail polish to keep themselves safe from date rape.

The Undercover Colors nail polish may cause women to think that they are completely safe because of their nail polish choice, which is not the case. It’s not a good idea to rely on inventions that may or may not even detect the spiked drink. Instead, women should just be careful at parties by not having too much to drink and going to parties with friends you trust to watch over each other.

Women’s advocates have questioned Undercover Colors as a means of preventing date rape. The real way to prevent date rape is by teaching men that rape is not acceptable rather than teaching women how to protect themselves from getting raped. New technology isn’t going to stop the problem. Teaching people that it is not okay to cross boundaries with another person is more effective.