LIFESTYLE

Smart Jewellery Device Hopes To Protect Women From Violence And Sexual Assault

04/11/2015 15:47 GMT | Updated 04/11/2015 15:59 GMT

Currently in the UK, three million women experience violence each year. Meanwhile, every six minutes a woman is raped.

One inventor hopes to help combat these shocking statistics, and help women feel safe again, by designing a piece of jewellery that helps ward off potential attackers.

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The simple device, called Athena, lets women press a button if they feel under threat. When activated, it emits a loud alarm and sends text messages to loved ones with the wearer’s location.

"By working with superstar technologists, self-defence gurus, and police / public-safety officers - we’ve engineered Athena so it acts as a deterrent by helping ward off an attack and instantly calling for help," says Yasmine Mustafa, who is the brains behind the device.

Athena is currently being crowdfunded on Indiegogo and has so far quadrupled its target of $40,000, suggesting there's most definitely a need for this kind of tech.

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Women can wear it prominently on a necklace, to act as a deterrent, or they can attach it onto their belt loop or place it discreetly on their handbag strap.

It is expected to be available in early May 2016 and will cost $99 (roughly £64).

"Women should not need to alter their lifestyle, modify their behaviour, or carry self-defence devices to protect themselves. Our goal is to help create a society where that is a reality," reads the crowdfunding page. "In the meantime, we are committed to helping make a difference."

For each device sold, a portion of proceeds will be invested in educational programs that focus on reducing violence.

Caitlin Roper, campaigner for Collective Shout, says it's "saddening" that we've come to a point where violence against women is considered the norm. And, indeed, that there's even a need for such devices.

However, she adds, "it would appear a great deal of thought has gone into this device and how to make it accessible for women".

"I think it's important to recognise that an item of this nature is, as the co-founders have acknowledged, merely a short term strategy and that there is a need for it to be coupled with education with the goal of changing the culture," says Roper.

"Rape prevention strategies are typically geared towards victims, instructing them on how they should modify their behaviour so as not to be targeted. There is the potential for devices like this to play into the widely held notion that the onus is on women to not get raped, rather than on men to not rape.

"We need to consider also that the vast majority of rapes are not committed by strangers but by someone known to the victim, even men they love, often in the victim's home. Will women be wearing these devices at home? Should they have to?"

She adds: "Women are not responsible for men's violence against them, nor is it within their power to predict and prevent this violence. The power to prevent men's violence lays solely with men."

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