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Science

New Nail Polish Alerts Wearers To Date Rape Drugs 595

Posted by samzenpus
from the at-the-tips-of-your-fingers dept.
stephendavion writes Checking to see if your drink has been tampered with is about to get a whole lot more discreet. Thanks to the work of four North Carolina State University undergrads, you'll soon be able to find out without reaching for a testing tool. That's because you'll already have five of them on each hand. The team — Ankesh Madan, Stephen Gray, Tasso Von Windheim, and Tyler Confrey-Maloney — has come up with a creative and unobtrusive way to package chemicals that react when exposed to Rohypnol and GHB. They put it in nail polish that they're calling Undercover Colors.
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New Nail Polish Alerts Wearers To Date Rape Drugs

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  • by jcon1 (2790581) on Monday August 25, 2014 @10:27AM (#47747521)
    That we need ways to test drinks for date rape drugs shows the state of the world we live in. I don't want to live on this planet anymore.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 25, 2014 @10:30AM (#47747541)

    We don't have to. The better solution would be to use cups that are covered and not set them down after being filled.

    As far as this technology goes, it might cut down on those particular drugs being used, but I doubt they're the only ones that people use.

  • by i kan reed (749298) on Monday August 25, 2014 @10:30AM (#47747553) Homepage Journal

    I think it might be that you respond this way when no one accused you of it.

    Methinks the not-lady doth protest too much.

  • Discreet? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by B33rNinj4 (666756) on Monday August 25, 2014 @10:31AM (#47747561) Homepage Journal
    Yes, because sticking your nails into a drink is totally discreet. I still think the best method is to just not leave a drink unattended when you're out.
  • by AvitarX (172628) <me@brandywinehund[ ].org ['red' in gap]> on Monday August 25, 2014 @10:34AM (#47747591) Journal

    I'm willing to bet strait alcohol is the most common one.

  • by kheldan (1460303) on Monday August 25, 2014 @10:34AM (#47747593) Journal
    Why do enough members of my own gender have to be such creepy bastards that we need something like this to be developed? I enjoy sex as much as the next healthy, red-blooded adult man does, but I have never had to slip drugs into some woman's drink to get it. I sure as hell haven't always 'got the girl' at the end of the night, but seriously? How fucked up do you have to be to do something like this? Shit like this is one of the many reasons why, if there are alien civilizations out there watching us, that they don't contact us openly: We still act like goddamn animals (and no, I'm not trying to be funny).

    C'mon guys, knock this shit off already!
  • by i kan reed (749298) on Monday August 25, 2014 @10:37AM (#47747621) Homepage Journal

    I'm trying to come up with a way to point out that the world is fully of humans doing all sorts of awful things to each other, without it seem like condoning the date rapists as being "not so bad" or whatever.

    I couldn't. Because there's something uniquely shitty about disabling and taking advantage of someone who's already going on a date with you. They went out of their way to spend time with you, and you just go "not good enough" and betray the hell out of them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 25, 2014 @10:37AM (#47747623)

    And obviously that's what they're suggesting here, that you and me and every other guy on the planet is despicable scum.

    Has it ever occurred to you that this is a valid and common concern? It's ridiculous that women have to go through such lengths to feel safe going out. But the current reality is that it IS necessary. Not because you yourself might spike their drink, but the chance that someone might is high enough, and the result is horrific enough, that products like this are the necessity.

    And instead of sympathizing with that, you decided to make this about how you personally feel slighted that anyone would suggest there's a need for this.

  • Re:Discreet? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by i kan reed (749298) on Monday August 25, 2014 @10:40AM (#47747659) Homepage Journal

    It takes 2 seconds with your back turned to get a drink spiked. The level of responsibility you're demanding is beyond human. Unless you spend your entire night focusing on nothing but your beverage(which I gotta say, is worse than dunking your finger in your drink occasionally), that's not going to work.

  • by Cardoor (3488091) on Monday August 25, 2014 @10:47AM (#47747745)
    i think the benefit of nail polish is that it's subtle. to whip out a testing strip in a bar is to say "hey everyone - i think the guy im talking to may be a rapist and trying to drug me. pardon me while i conduct an experiment. "

    to dip one fingertips into a well stirred (and presumably mostly full) drink could be very discreetly done. and i dont think hygienics should be an issue (esp with the alcohol content.) and if a girls fingertips are so grody she feels the hygiene is too rough, well.. then she may have bigger issues.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 25, 2014 @10:50AM (#47747779)

    He's not ashamed of his gender, just assholes like you.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 25, 2014 @11:01AM (#47747877)

    I know a lot of folks with allergies and diet sensitivities. Wheat, Gluten, Dairy, Casein, Soy, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Shellfish, etc... A detector like this could be really useful if the detected compounds were expanded.

  • by Dutch Gun (899105) on Monday August 25, 2014 @11:08AM (#47747953)

    It's a clever bit of science, but unfortunately, I fear the young ladies who are most likely in need of this product are probably not going to have the foresight to wear it. If they had such foresight in the first place, it seems like perhaps they wouldn't be in a position where someone they shouldn't trust could surreptitiously slip them drugs in their drinks.

    I'm not "blaming the victim", mind you. No should be subject to drugging and rape regardless of circumstances, and the perps and deserve all the wrath our legal system can throw at them. I'm just pointing out that some people are more prone to making poor life choices. I'm sure we've all met them before. We feel really bad when these people are eaten by wolves, but we can't help but thinking: "was it really the best idea to go out in a suit made of meat and barbeque sauce?"

    The big problem is that if you're drugged, you may not be in a suitable state of mind to fight off a would-be rapist even if you know you've been drugged. The best defense is, as always, for women to watch out for their friends when at bars and parties. Don't go wandering off alone after heavy drinking with a guy you don't know or trust. That's asking for trouble in about a million different ways. Drugged drinks are just another type of potential trouble among many.

  • by nimbius (983462) on Monday August 25, 2014 @11:12AM (#47747981) Homepage
    unless you're Penn Jillette, most men do not wear nail polish.
    it would also be very important to educate the wearer that they could never, under any circumstances, topcoat as it would render the system useless. Salons would also need training on numerous procedures that, while safe for normal polish, would damage the system.

    Disclosure: ive worked in a salon. my suggestion would be to offer a topcoat or clearcoat that can be added to existing colours. This system would also work well in french tips, but again, most men do not wear them.
  • by RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) <taiki@cPASCALox.net minus language> on Monday August 25, 2014 @11:22AM (#47748079)

    Being able to say no to liquor is extremely easy.

    Being able to say no to GHB that's been slipped into your drink isn't.

  • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo @ w orld3.net> on Monday August 25, 2014 @11:23AM (#47748093) Homepage

    It's not just people who have serious mental defects, it's people who might otherwise be normal human beings. It's what some people call "rape culture", the fact that a lot of guys don't really see anything particularly wrong with pressuring girls for sex or treating them as disposable sex objects so it isn't that much of a leap to go as far as drugging them. I mean, if plying them with alcohol so they are less inhibited is okay...

    Once you become away of it you start to notice how prevalent it is in western culture. A few years ago there was an advert for pain medication where a women told her husband she didn't want sex that night because she had a headache. The guy produces the pills, "problem" solved, and the woman looks... Well, in all honestly the actress looked like she was resigned to being raped that night, by the look on her face. Going back much further if you watch this scene from Goldfinger [youtu.be] it's supposed to be... romantic? but Bond basically forces her to have sex with him.

    Women are often portrayed as either wanting this behaviour or as deserving it. Female characters tend to be manipulative, using their looks and the promise of sex to get what they want. It gives guys the impression that if they meet a girl, she is attractive and dresses in anything lower cut that a turtleneck, she is trying to manipulate them. If they go along with it and maybe buy her a drink or two they have "paid" and expect something in return. Changing her mind or wanting to go slowly is just a rip-off.

    It's really screwed up when you start to look at it.

  • by argStyopa (232550) on Monday August 25, 2014 @11:27AM (#47748137) Journal

    Because fearmongering about dirty, nasty predatory men is a lot more politically palatable than talking to young women about making bad choices and the consequences thereof. That's "substantiating the patriarchy".

    The public narrative is about "victimization" not about "stupidity and carelessness".

    Don't get me wrong, a man who takes advantage of a girl who's drunk is just as much a scumbag shit as someone who takes advantage of a girl who's been drugged.

    But... I know that if I left my car running with the keys in it, even if the guy that (almost inevitably) would steal it should & would be prosecuted, simultaneously the insurance company isn't going to replace my car because of my own stupid choices.

    Just sayin'.

  • by gweihir (88907) on Monday August 25, 2014 @11:28AM (#47748149)

    Neo-Feminist standard tactics: All men are savages. Because looking at actual facts would expose them for the hate-preachers and frauds they are.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 25, 2014 @11:30AM (#47748175)
    The plural of anecdote is not data.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 25, 2014 @11:43AM (#47748331)

    I know someone who had roofies used on her.

    It's far more likely that you know someone who claims that happened to her. She may even believe it. It's far more likely though, that she drank more than she wants to admit.

    Do know who many women are raped each year on campuses in the US?

    Yes, and according to the FBI, it's a hell of a lot fewer than you and your fellow SJWs pretend.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 25, 2014 @12:05PM (#47748539)

    Ok, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say you're a completely stupid fuck. For one thing I know someone who had roofies used on her. She knew a member of the frat since they were little kids and he still pulled a "bros before hoes" on her. (Yes I know he was probably the rapist.) I have also stumbled on someone in downtown Portland who had been given something. Had one drink and she couldn't walk properly. Roofies are not a "moral panic block", they are widely available, tasteless and odorless drug used by sociopaths to rape people. Do you read the news? Do know who many women are raped each year on campuses in the US? Take your useless, ignorant, thoughtless, opinion and have some frat boy tape it to his dick and shove it up your ass and see what you "think" about it then.

    The point the parent was trying to make you asked right back in the form of a question. Yes, we know how many women (and men, sexist much?) are raped each year on campuses. Care to tell me what percentage of those involved anything other than straight alcohol? Yeah, I thought so.

    Yes, we all know it's a problem, it's simply not anywhere near as powerful or prevelant in rape culture as you or anyone else make it out to be. Alcohol is a drug. Why is it people seem to forget that, or excuse it because they don't want it to interfere with their chosen lifestyle? Isn't it ironic when everything is bad and evil except when it's a vice of yours. Easiest solution to avoid this? Don't consume drugs. Of any kind. That would include your beloved precious fucking alcohol and your lame-ass excuses to keep drinking it in order to have a "good time".

  • by sribe (304414) on Monday August 25, 2014 @12:11PM (#47748603)

    Acquaintance rape seems like an unplanned thing that happens over alcohol.

    While this is the stereotype, the truth is that normal acquaintances are not rapists, and rapists often stalk their victims, becoming their acquaintances, testing boundaries, and then attacking.

  • by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Monday August 25, 2014 @12:17PM (#47748661) Homepage

    "I'm not "blaming the victim""

    I hate to break it to you, but that is exactly what you are doing. You are also claiming that only woman without much brains or ability to think for themselves and plan ahead like to have a good time in public.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 25, 2014 @12:37PM (#47748819)
    I have no problem with this product. But I am concerned about false-positives. And I don't mean just the "it detected a daterape drug but in fact there was nothing in the drink". I mean the wrong guy gets identified as the one who spiked the drink and gets his life ruined as a result.

    But that is a societal problem.
  • by BronsCon (927697) <social@bronstrup.com> on Monday August 25, 2014 @12:50PM (#47748953) Journal

    But that is a societal problem.

    So is the need for this product.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 25, 2014 @12:51PM (#47748967)

    No, jerk. Nothing here says "All men are savages". That's all in your mind. Some men are savages, and women need every level of protection against them possible. This story is about one new form of protection.

    I guess the real question is: why do you feel threatened by a new date rape prevention tool?
    Do you get equally offended when Toyota adds a new interior airbag?
    Do you assume that Toyota is telling you that *you are a terrilbe driver?

    How about when you're operating system alerts you to a new security update?
    Is Microsoft or Redhat telling you that you can't keep your computer safe?

    Why would this story be any different?

  • by BronsCon (927697) <social@bronstrup.com> on Monday August 25, 2014 @12:58PM (#47749045) Journal
    Yes, they exist, they get used, I've seen it, too; in fact, I've been a victim. Doesn't change the fact that most club rapists simply buy a girl drinks until she can't walk straight anymore, though. Cheaper and you aren't carrying something that will land you in prison just for possession. Think about it.

    I know a guy, a former friend (basically because he does this kind of shit) that will meet a girl at a bar or club, take her to a table that has no visibility of the bar, and buy himself a beer and her a drink. Innocent enough, just buying a girl a drink, right? Well, his game, and the reason why the table must not be able to see the bar, is that he keeps buying her drinks, bringing his beer with him on every trip to the bar (he never lets the waitress bring drinks), but, instead of getting himself another beer, he gets a glass of water and refills his empty beer bottle before returning to the table. She thinks he's drinking as much as him, making him less of a threat.

    Scum. Absolute scum. After I learned what he was doing (he was proud of it when he told me) I did tell a few bartenders at places he was known to frequent but they didn't seem to care, which, I suppose, makes them scum, as well.
  • by BronsCon (927697) <social@bronstrup.com> on Monday August 25, 2014 @01:01PM (#47749083) Journal
    To be fair, the FBI's statistics only include what actually gets reported; if all rapes were reported, we may well see that men rape women no more often than women rape men. And yes, women do rape men. Mine went unreported, officially, but I do talk about it when the subject comes up.
  • by hey! (33014) on Monday August 25, 2014 @01:03PM (#47749109) Homepage Journal

    No need to paint the male gender as a whole as being filled with sociopaths. It's just the law of large numbers at work. There's maybe 30 million American men in the age rage that are likely to pick up srange women; if just 1/10 % of them are sociopathic predators that's 30,000 predators; and since they *are* predators they'll be overrepresented in young women's encounters with men in pick-up scenarios. Small numbers can produce disproportionate problems. In this case it represents numbers the actions of such a small proportion of men that our ideas about how normal people act aren't a reliable guide.

    Drink spiking is a very rare crime. Most studies that look for evidence of it find very little. The highest I found was a government study which found date rape drugs in 4.5% of the cases from four sexual assault clinics. Note this is 4.5% of the cases where the assault occurred, so we're not talking about 4.5% of encounters, we're talking 4.5% of rapes. 4.5% is certainly high enough to be a concern in certain situations, like residential parties at a college. In such a situation a date rape drug detector might actually have some utility, even though it addresses relatively rare actions by a tiny proportion of men.

    A bigger concern than what we think of as a "date rape drug" is alcohol itself. The same study that found date rape drugs in 4.5% of sexual assault samples found alcohol in 55%. This result is consistently found across studies: alcohol is very frequently associated with sexual assault -- around half of the time. This is especially concerning because some people (men and women both) don't believe that surreptitiously incapacitating someone with alcohol in order to have sex is rape. They don't distinguish ethically between two people getting drunk and having sex and one of them slipping extra alcohol into a drink.

    But the fact remains most men wouldn't do something like that. But that doesn't preclude the possibility that a woman might often encounter the few remaining men who would. A typical man has sex with a small number of women many times; a man who has sex with a large number of women only once is bound to be encountered by women disproportionately often.

  • by danlip (737336) on Monday August 25, 2014 @01:06PM (#47749129)

    I think the main point is to prevent the woman from drinking the spiked drink. I think it is rather unlike that a guy gets convicted (or even prosecuted) based solely on this test. Perhaps arrested, but more likely just questioned. Unless he's black, in which case he would probably be shot by the police, but that's a problem which has nothing to do with this product.

  • by Frobnicator (565869) on Monday August 25, 2014 @01:07PM (#47749131) Journal

    Agreed.

    Looking over the USDOJ stats, it seems Rohypnol is a regional problem with relatively low use count. In many places it is listed as "the least accessible date-rape drug", in other regions it is a suspected factor in hundreds of rape cases. The numbers show it going from about 1000 suspected cases nationally in 1997 to it's modern level of being suspected use in 1.5% of rape cases, a few thousand cases per year. Consider: how many hundreds of thousands of dates where a drink is consumed are there every year? Millions of drinks? Hundreds of millions of drinks? On a per-drink basis the number of uses is a very small percentage. Since it is small as a percentage that suggests going after bigger percentages for the bigger reductions.

    While any number bigger than 0 is a problem, as a statistic these two drugs are not used in a high percentage of rapes, and date rapes themselves are relatively rare. I'm not trying to trivialize it. As the parent post suggests, a very rare problem does not lend itself to a TSA-like drug test where millions of drinks are tested for something detectable only a few thousand times annually at a maximum. My rough estimate is around 100M drinks across the nation over the course of a year, roughly 3000 testable contaminated drinks, so 0.0003% of date drinks, or one in every 30,000. That's a lot of useless fingernail-dips.

    I suppose if you do go that route, of the new products this one [drinksavvy.com] that continuously monitors your drink by the cup and straw changing color seems much better than nail polish you need to dip frequently. It is both passive and continuous. Someone could slip the drug in after you dunk your fingernail, but the sensor on the container or the straw is 'always on'.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 25, 2014 @01:07PM (#47749137)
    I've recently stopped driving a taxi (after a 1 1/2 years, 2 summer seasons) in the Hamptons of E. Long Island NY. Through my fares telling me what happened to their friends (cute looking, vulnerable type young women), I applaud this fingernail polish roofie detecting product.

    Last summer, I had on one early Sunday morning fare (a woman), tell me how her friend walked out of the Southampton Social Club (near the Southampton Lirr train station) the Saturday night before after feeling 'strange', and fell onto the club's driveway, face first, slightly (thank God) cutting up her face. The young woman managed to call her friend (my passenger) who drove and picked her up. No police were summoned, and as I've learned since, it wouldn't have mattered much, since the Southampton Police in L.I. do not even have a 'rape kit' available to them.

    One other episode was this (2014) summer: Early one morning (5:30 am), I was dispatched to a local, S.Hampton call to a (very expensive, not unusual for the vicinity) home. After getting admittance through the gated driveway, two beautiful young women got in. One was sick and 'out of it', though her friend was much more in control of herself, and gave me the info needed to get them to where they needed to go (a temporary summer rental home). The other young woman was a really cute, vulnerable type young lady, who I could tell, was not feeling very well. During our trip she needed a plastic 'barf bag' that I supplied her with. And her friend told me how she suspected that her friend got 'roofied' by one of the residents of the home. Very plausible allegation, to my mind. I did my job and delivered both of them safely to their destination. A few days later I was called to their address to take both of them to the train station so they could leave Southampton. On the trip we spoke little, other than me asking the young lady if she was alright, she quietly said she was, though I had a very bad feeling that she was molested that day. As their cab driver, there wasn't a damn thing I could do to help them, excepting safely delivering them where they wanted to go. It's a shitty, powerless feeling for a man.

    Some 5 years ago I was roofied myself, by a supposed 'friend'. Within a 30 minute period after eating a drug laced slice of pizza, I felt quite 'odd', and left the home of my 'friend'. I walked over 2 miles to get back to my rented room, needing to stop on the way to throw up the pizza I'd ingested. The final, 3 story climb up the stairs to my room were the most difficult, I was forcibly pulling my body up the stairs by gripping the stairway's banister, and I'm a somewhat strong man. As soon as I got inside my room and locked my door behing me I collapsed onto my bed, and for the next six hours I slept the sleep of the dead. Woke up knowing this was not a normal thing to happen to me, and deduced that I must have been 'roofied'. I wanted at the time to go back and kill that guy who I know did that to me. I didn't do that. One day I went there, knocked on his door (acting normal), and made sure that I got my belongings out of storage from his garage. As I walked away, his last words to me were, "You need a psychiatrist!" (I had just began walking away from him down his driveway while carrying my packed up bags).

    At those words I almost froze, intent on wanting to drop my bags, and go walk up to him (my 'former' friend), and clock him a good one in his face. I didn't do that though, my intent was just to get away from the asshole without police involvement and my meager, but important to me, belongings intact. Instead of doing that, I remember my steps hesitating a small bit, but I instead kept on walking away from him, despite my wanting so much to stop, go back and smash his face in for what I knew he had done to me.

    Now, I am a somewhat strong guy who is non-violent by nature, though I am capable of violence, when pushed too far. I mentally 'chose' not to act upon my 'baser instincts'. I 'thought' through it as it was happening, kno

  • by danlip (737336) on Monday August 25, 2014 @01:10PM (#47749159)

    frat is just an abbreviation for fraternity. What is the distinction you are trying to make?

    And they have a terrible reputation, which they have earned.

  • by pr0fessor (1940368) on Monday August 25, 2014 @01:54PM (#47749573)

    I know a few guys who are certain a woman slipped them a Viagra and one that knows since it went horribly wrong and he ended up going to the ER.

  • by nedlohs (1335013) on Monday August 25, 2014 @03:07PM (#47750277)

    It already is.

    But non-idiots mitigate risks as best they can - trading off against convenience and so on of course, sometimes with convenience winning by miles.

    The message is "never burglarize" and no one thinks advising people to lock their doors somehow changes that message.

    The message is "don't abduct children" and no one thinks that "stranger danger" type idiocy in schools changes that message.

    Why does any mention of mitigating rape risks always get portrayed as undermining "don't rape".

  • by CastrTroy (595695) on Monday August 25, 2014 @03:07PM (#47750281) Homepage
    Thank goodness I don't live in the US. I kind of forget how nice it is to have health care available to everyone paid for by taxes. If I'm lying unconscious, I don't want anybody making decisions about whether or not I should go to the hospital based on whether they think it will cost me too much money to save my life. If I saw somebody (especially a friend) unconscious on the street, I would call an ambulance, health insurance or not. Hell, you could probably be found negligent if you didn't get the person to a hospital and something bad did happen them.

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