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Girls & Women

This Woman’s ‘Rape-Proof’ Underwear Could Be a Final Defense for Girls in India

Faced with the terrifying threat of sexual assault, one young woman in India has developed a pair of high-tech “rape-proof” underwear as a last line of defense against attackers.

The panties developed by Seenu Kumari, a 19-year-old woman from Uttar Pradesh, come equipped with a combination lock, GPS system to alert police, and a video camera to record the face of the attacker — or attackers.

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Though impractical, the undergarment technology serves as a harsh reminder of the threats girls and women face and the measures they have to take to avoid being raped.

Read More: India Rules Sex With a Child Bride Is Always Rape in a Massive Win for Girls’ Rights

Sexual violence remains a major threat to girls and women around the world, including in India.

Videos depicting real-life rape scenes sell for a few bucks at markets in Uttar Pradesh and brutal gang rapes continue to occur — often unpunished — despite major public demands for an end to sexual violence.

Global Citizen campaigns on strengthening laws to protect women and girls from sexual assault. You can take action here

Despite new laws implemented to stop rape and encourage women to report instances of sexual assault, Indian law enforcement often fails to enforce these protections. Nationwide, only about a quarter of all rape cases result in a conviction.

Faced with these startling gaps in enforcement and the terrifying threat of rape, Kumari took matters into her own hands. Her underwear not only protects women, it raises awareness about an abusive culture that often blames women for becoming victims.

Read More: Despite India’s Anti-Rape Laws, Sexual Assault Is Still a Major Problem

“Rape is still constructed as women’s shame and there are so many social barriers for women to talk about it,” a professor at the School of Gender Studies at Mumbai’s Tata Institute of Social Sciences saying in a Human Rights Watch report entitled “Everyone Blames Me.”

"I have lost everything and everyone blames me,” one victim said in the report. “I didn’t even leave my home for a month after the incident. I was tired of listening to neighbors’ taunts.”

While Kumari’s protective panties cannot yet protect girls and women from sexual violence, she said she plans to eventually sell her innovative undergarment. Kumari has already sent the prototype, which cost her about $80 to make, to the National Innovation Foundation to obtain a patent.

"If we use a better quality of clothes and equipment, it will be ready to be used and sold in the market," she said.