UK: Rape alarm fitted on bra raises ethical concerns

A new rape alarm to be fitted on the bra has been developed by a graduate student at the University of Strathclyde.

Measuring 6cm by 3.5cm and weighing just 40 grams, the device to be launched in October will be offered for free. Users will, however, have to pay a £5-10 monthly charge for the monitoring station service.

On assault, the victim has to press buttons on the alarm which sends out a signal via the user’s mobile phone Bluetooth to a monitoring station. On checking for any possible danger the station will GPS the victim’s location to the nearest police station.

The ‘Personal Guardian’ as it is called was developed by Rebecca Pick, who decided to work on a device after a fellow student was raped putting out the bins.

Besides the monetary aspect of paying £5-10 monthly charges for security, the rape alarm has set off ethical discussions on the need for such a measure, reports The Telegraph.

Sexual violence researchers like Dr Nina Burrowes believe the alarm wouldn’t be able to avert 90% of the rapes which are not carried out in dark alleys by strangers but by people known to the victims.

It is the idea that women have to protect themselves that women like her are not buying.

Pick believes the alarm offers safety to women and an alternative to being raped.

Katie Russell, national spokesperson for Rape Crisis England and Wales also believes the onus of preventing rapes should be on the perpetrators.

The requirement for a monitoring station to listen in on the phone would also call for training to discern what could be a potential precursor, she says. Victims often freeze up and would not remember to press buttons during such an imminent attack, she adds.

The device could also induce a false sense of security when out and the danger could well be in presumably safe environs where the victim may be caught unawares.