By Eun Kyung Kim
Four students at North Carolina State University hope to tackle a problem on many campuses by developing a nail polish that can detect so-called date rape drugs by changing colors when it comes into contact with them.
Women who wear the polish can simply swirl their fingers in a drink to test it for any colorless, odorless compound that may have been slipped in.
The four male entrepreneurs behind the product, which they call Undercover Colors, have received mainly positive responses. They won an $11,000 prize from a contest on campus, where they also have met with a potential investor.
A White House report estimates one in five women has been sexually assaulted while at college, but only 12 percent of those student victims ever report the crime.
“As a rape victim, and a mother of 3 daughters, I can not thank you enough,” one fan said in a post on the group's Facebook page, which has been “liked” by more than 26,000 users.
But some have expressed skepticism about the product, however well-intentioned it may be.
"I think it reflects the cultural reality where we actually put the blame on women,” often when they are the victims of rape,” said Elizabeth Plank, a senior editor at Mic. “We put the onus on them, to prevent rape, when we very well know that this is not an effective way of actually reducing sexual assault."
North Carolina State has encouraged the students to continue pursuing their project, providing them with lab space to experiment. It’s not clear when the nail polish will be available on the market.