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Co-founder of innovative bra that stuns would-be rapists feted by President Pranab Mukherjee in New Delhi

Manisha Mohan hopes to market the product soon.

By Kevin Manuel

WASHINGTON, DC: The co-founder of an innovative brassiere that acts as a deterrent to sexual assault, Manisha Mohan, is being feted at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi for 20 days this month, and hopes to bring her product to the market soon.

Courtesy of Manisha Mohan
Courtesy of Manisha Mohan

In light of the infamous gang rape and murder of a New Delhi student in December of 2012, social activists in India have been working hard to bring a sense of safety and security for the nation’s female population, but with little or no results. Most recently, two cousins, aged 12 and 14, were raped and lynched in Katra Sahadatganj village in Uttar Pradesh by three men, who have since been charged with rape and murder.

While protests have brought attention to the problem, some like Mohan have sought more startling solutions.

Mohan, 21, a final year automobile engineering student from Chandigarh and member of Team Robocon at Sri Ramaswamy Memorial University in Chennai, and two of her classmates, Niladri Basu Bal and Rimpi Tripathi – both from Assam, have spent over a year developing a brassiere that discharges electric shocks to potential sexual predators.

“I am exploring certain opportunities for evolution of my product and working on details to make it commercially viable. The practice of brain drain in our country has always been the concern of experts. Such an initiative to recognize the innovations by the President himself is good news for the youth of the country,” Mohan said in an interview to PTI.

The bra has been termed Society Harnessing Equipment (SHE), and generates a 3,800 kilovolt shock for would be sexual assaulters when pressure sensors on its electric circuits are triggered. Additionally, the pressure sensors that will activate a GPS that instantly sends a text message with location to both the authorities and parents of its owner. A shock from the bra is strong enough to stun and deliver serious burns to the hands of a sexual predator; however, it is not enough to immobilize the attacker.

According to the SRM University website, the bra combines the disciplines of micro processing, controls, electronics, and communication.

“The entire electronics is contained in the bi layer fabric”, explained Manisha. “The first layer provides insulation to the woman, while the current flows in the closed loop.” Touch activates the closed loop and its preventative and instantly punitive measures are unleashed. Mohan and her team are also working to make the bra more comfortable – currently the inner side of the bra is insulated with polymer, and implementing a Bluetooth setup that can be synced to a smart phone, which will make the emergency text messages it sends instantaneous.

While setting of false alarms is a stark possibility, Mohan and her team have calibrated the bra so that it only responds to a higher amount of pressure than say a friendly hug. A power switch is also present that allows the user to turn it on while in high risk neighborhoods.

Mohan has not yet decided how to market or price the device and it is not yet available stores. However, given that rapes in India, or at least the reports of them, have increased yearly since the horrific gang rape of 2012, it is not inconceivable that it will become a viable option for India’s women who can afford it.

The equipment goes hand in hand with other assault prevention devices that Indian women have been empowered with, such as mace and pepper spray.  Unfortunately, these preventative measures are expensive and are not easily accessible by the country’s rural poor, who are often the victims of such assaults.

However, one Texas man is working to bring such devices to the India’s underprivileged after being witness to the protests while on a trip to the world’s largest democracy.

Vocativ.com reports that Kuro Tawil, a recent graduate of Texas State, has started a company called Kuros! that brings pepper spray to women who otherwise would not be able to afford it. Tawil had graduated college and was on self-described journey to find himself in South Asia. His journey took him in a cramped bus from the nation’s capital of New Delhi to Kathmandu, Nepal. It was there that the next stage of life was revealed to him; he wanted to be a part of something bigger than himself, and Kuros! was born.

In India, pepper spray runs at about $10 a can, something that many Indian women in parts of rural India would never be able to afford. The company donates a can of pepper spray to an Indian woman every time an item, which includes wallets hand made by Kashmiri refugees in Kathmandu, is purchased from the Kuros! online store.

Tawil also organizes “Protection Drops” where pepper spray cans and specific instructions on how to use them are disseminated. This work has seen him team up with the Red Brigade, a women’s group that teaches self-defense through the martial arts.  In a recent Red Brigade event in the town of Madiyav, women ranging in age from 14 to 50 attended. Nearly half the village was armed with the yellow pepper spray cans and the result has been positive.

“Before, attackers knew that women weren’t armed so there wasn’t much of a risk,” says Tawil. “But now rapists are forced to wonder whether a woman is armed or not, and then decide if they want to find out.” Since the drop, not a single rape has been reported in the village of Madiyav.