After the horrific Delhi rape case on 16 December, a group of students— Manisha Mohan, Rimpi Tripathi and Niladri Basu—of SRM University, Chennai, put their heads together to see if there was something they could do for women to protect themselves. And the answer they arrived at was rather unusual—an anti-rape undergarment.
“I was in Chandigarh at the time, and was deeply hurt by the news. When I came back to Chennai, I discussed this idea with Rimpi and Niladri and they agreed that we should do it,” says Manisha.
The undergarment, named Society Harnessing Equipment (SHE) is equipped with circuitry that delivers a strong electric shock to an attacker. Pressure sensors trigger the shock mechanism if the wearer is attacked, delivering an electric shock of about 3800kv. “We’ve calibrated the value of pressure of an unfriendly touch or an attack and the sensors will get activated only at a particular value,” says Rimpi, “The electric shock will immobilise the attacker for 10 minutes, allowing the woman to defend herself or escape.” The wearer can activate the device whenever she feels unsafe. A layer of insulation protects her from the shock. The garment is also equipped with a GPS and GSM module that, when the device is triggered, will immediately send messages to the closest police station as well as the woman’s loved ones, informing them of her location.
The technology caught public attention when the trio won the Gandhian Young Technological Innovation Award at IIM Ahmedabad in March. “It was a completely independent project,” says Rimpi, “We even funded it out of our own pockets.” They are still in the process of developing the technology to make it more accessible and user friendly. “When we entered it for the competition, it was still in its prototype phase,” says Manisha.
As for releasing the product commercially, the trio have their own business plan. “We were approached by lingerie companies,” says Niladri, “but we want to release the product ourselves. The moment it gets associated with a brand, its price will go up. That defeats the purpose of this technology. We want it to be affordable and available to every woman in this country and maybe even the world.”