These Teen Girls Invented A Date Rape Drug Detection Straw

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Girls kicking ass? Just another day that ends with Y.

High schoolers Susana Cappello, Carolina Baigorri and Victoria Roca invented a straw that detects date rape drugs, winning the Miami Herald‘s Business Plan Challenge: High School Track.

Many date rape drugs are odorless, tasteless, and colorless, which is why their use is popular for spiking drinks, particularly alcoholic ones. Date rape drugs making sexual assault easier because they inhibit one’s ability to defend themselves. Reduced function, sluggishness, dizziness, blackouts, and temporary amnesia are common side effects of date rape drugs, and alcohol only makes these side effects worse.

“Rapes assisted by drugs or alcohol are all too common. We just want to give any gender a simple tool to protect themselves,” Cappello told A Plus.

Their concept, Smart Straws, detect GHB and ketamine, two popular drugs used in what RAINN calls “drug-facilitated sexual assault.” The Smart Straws look just like any other plastic straw, but when it is placed in the drink–alcoholic or non-alcoholic–it turns blue if drugs are detected. The girls are currently seeking a patent to detract copycats from running away with their idea. They also hope to receive crowdfunding for the project in the future as well as figure out a way to make the straws as eco-friendly as possible.

College-aged people are the primary demographic of Smart Straws, and for good reason. A 2015 study indicates that 23.1 percent of female and 5.4 percent of male undergrad students  are victims of sexual assault through “physical force, violence, or incapacitation.” And whether in college or not, college-aged people between the ages of 18 and 24 are at high risk for sexual assault. Mix in binge-drinking culture, and you get this nerve wracking statistic: 1 in 13 college students report being drugged or suspect that their drink was spiked. That’s where Cappello, Baigorri, and Roca’s invention shines. While they initially considered the test coming in some form of jewelry, their peers weren’t feeling it, so they aimed for straws instead. Not only are they inexpensive to make, they’re also easy to distribute. For example, college campuses can carry them, as well as frat and sorority houses and bars. They can also be easily transported in one’s purse or backpack, making them handy literally anywhere.

This isn’t the first time someone has come up with date rape drug detectors. There are test kits already on the market, and there have been for a while. Hell, there’s even nail polish that detects date rape drugs. But this straw option doesn’t hurt either. Obviously, none of these items–or any other products like anti-rape underwear–can single-handedly reverse a culture in which consent isn’t taught, people feel entitled to sex, and rapists receive light punishment, if any. But as a tool that can help people in this perverse rape culture survive? Smart Straws are a step in the right direction.

 

Would you buy Smart Straws? Tell us in the comments!

You can follow the author, Ashley Reese, on Twitter or Instagram. Don’t worry, she doesn’t bite!

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  • Ivelise Rodriguez

    I won’t buy the straws for myself because I’m never in an environment where I would have to use the straws (parties). Would I buy the straws for others who are going to parties as a precaution for them? Absolutely! Then give them the advice (Which is sad i have to give this advice in the first place, but i have to anyways) to ALWAYS watch your drink, watch who and how your drink is mixed, if you left your drink unattended or you couldn’t see how it was mixed or who mixed it, dump it out or use the straw.
    Sadly, I still would favor for them to dump it out because there something people do with eye drops in drinks (this is also colorless, odorless, tasteless, doesn’t create bubbles in the drink) that though doesn’t knock people unconscious (it would more than likely make them very very sick), it debilitates them to the point where they would go home with almost anyone, just to get home and “safe” so though the straws do have their upsides, like everything else in the world it has it’s limitation but it IS a huge step in the right direction 🙂 <3