October 29, 2008
Rape Alarm Failure Uncomfortably Amusing

I’m a little confused by the rape alarm device tested out by Emine Saner (most google-able name ever) for The Guardian. It’s supposed to mimic the sound of a woman screaming, but if you’re a woman and you’re attacked…wouldn’t screaming yourself be a better method than getting your hands free to locate and activate an item?

The alarm is not only entirely unpractical but also sadly ineffective, as seen in the accompanying clip. Saner activates it, then stands awkwardly in the street, giggling, as everyone in the vicinity ignores the noise which sounds, unmistakably, like a recording. (Although exactly what it’s a recording of is up for discussion.) The video does capture the sad, familiar truth about cities, though; people tend to avoid weird things because weird things are such a fixture of everyday life.

So, what’s the better alternative? My search kept turning up this Armani phone, which has a feature that notifies five of your chosen contacts when something’s wrong. I like this idea much better than the scream alarm: it would be more surreptitious, so less likely to anger an attacker, and would contact someone who actually cares about you. (Strangers, after all, are notoriously apathetic to attacks on others. Just recenly, a metro worker failed to react to a rape that took place right in front of him.) Anyway the Armani feature is so smart, I’m actually kind of baffled as to why more phones don’t have it.

Are there any other tech attempts at street safety we should know about?

[Photo by charliegentle]

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  • Garrett says :

    I don’t think it’s a very good test really. People did turn and look, but they saw a woman standing there with a noisy phone/camera looking thingajig. I’d assume it was a prank or a broken piece of tech.

    I always thought the idea of a rape whistle or alarm was to startle the attacker just as much to get attention.

    I think something like this sonic grenade would be a distraction and an attention getting (Warning, it gets REALLY loud)

  • Angus says :

    That sick bastard watched a rape happen and did nothing? Why hasn’t he shot himself yet with guilt?

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Monica Shores