Indian engineering students design anti-rape lingerie


A 15-year-old woman seeking medical treatment waits at the Doctors Without Boarders (MSF) clinic in Monrovia on November 30, 2009, after being raped.


Glenna Gordon

Indian engineering students have designed high-tech lingerie for women to wear that sends electrical shocks to anyone who attempts rape or assault.

The lingerie, which the students have named "Society Harnessing Equipment," comes with pressure sensors, GPS and mobile communications that can be enabled to send alerts to police and the victim's family. "The shocks can be emitted up to 82 times," Manisha Mohan, an automobile engineering student at SRM University and co-developer of the product, told the Times of India.

More from GlobalPost: India anti-rape bill set to become law

She added: "A person trying to molest a girl will get the shock of his life the moment pressure sensors get activated."

Newser called the lingerie an "ingenious invention." But is it ingenious, or are products like this reinforcing the idea that targets of rape should be prepared to defend against it? Will it invite situations where the first question after an attack might not be "Who did it?" but "Were you wearing your anti-assault lingerie?" 

A commenter on the Times of India story about the creation posed a more immediate question: "How will the girl be protected from getting shocked?"

Reports haven't explained how the underwear will shock the attacker without harming the person wearing it. It's also not clear how the device might avoid reacting to false alarms — say, the pressure from a crowded train or the embrace of a family member.

A more promising weapon against rape may be far less flashy: legislation that holds attackers accountable for their actions.

India's new anti-rape bill has recently been cleared by the president and both houses of parliament. The legislation increases the penalties for convicted rapists — up to the death sentence in certain cases — and expands the definition of sex crimes. However, activists say that the law doesn't go far enough to protect women.