by Zohra KhanMar 10, 2022
Every year a new study comes out. Every month a new movement is born. Every week a new campaign arises, and every day a new hashtag is made. While all these happen, as per NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information), every hour at least two women are raped in India and as per NISVS (The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey), an average of 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States. While the world may seem more open to the discussions concerning the issues of abuse and harassment, the facts and figures don’t reflect this influence. While society argues that the world is a safer place and that the opportunities are diverse for all genders, as per WHO statistics, one in three women experiences a form of physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. Amid the rush of conquering all galaxies and gaining clarity on the worlds beyond the light years, mankind seems to be drifting from the course of making the earth a safer place for their own fellow beings. In the process of addressing social issues, the design world and the newest designers in the field are reflecting more responsibility. While the prodigies of the industry seem to narrow their presence into architecture and design of the buildings, brands and the digital world, the generation to come hopes to create a better world for themselves.
In one such attempt, the students from Brunel University London have designed products that help tackle the most common and threatening women harassment situations in the world. The project aimed at proposing novel innovation strategies for the future based on technology advances within the next 10-15 years. To publicise the products and provide a familiar identity to it, the designs relate to a brand with corresponding values to the problem. In the context of a rise in the number of women experiencing any physical and sexual violence at least once in their lifetime, the question put forward by the students was “How can Tiffany & Co. protect and empower women, allowing them to safely go about their lives and support their wellbeing?” The students further added, “We selected Tiffany as a brand to base our collection due to their recent progressive brand and marketing strategies which focus on empowering women and the self-purchasing woman. The products have been modelled using the iconic Tiffany colour, material and finish, however, are in no way affiliated with the company.” The collection had five designs ranging from a cup that can detect spiked drinks to a necklace that can detect the tone of voice of the perpetrator.
Even when a person is out of an abusive situation, the after-effects of the trauma can be long-lasting. For most people, it reflects in forms of mental disorders such as anxiety, panic attacks, PTSD or depression. Stanley Binns designed a haptic eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing therapy device in a compact mirror form. Haptics therapy translates senses into therapeutic guidance that is tactile to a person. Through the design, Binns hopes to provide a discrete on-the-go therapy solution.
While women's safety has always been a concern worldwide, during the lockdown, the United Kingdom witnessed the brutal murders of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa. Though the public outrage called for more safety measures to be implemented by the government, the stories of women being abused, abducted, raped and killed while walking alone at night in the streets didn’t see a significant change. Addressing this, Sophie Lazenby designed a non-violent defence strategy using strobe light patterns. “When activated, the device releases a disorienting flash and strobe light sequence, giving the woman a chance to escape the situation and seek help,” states Lazenby.
Of all the alarming offences occurring in public places, upskirting is the most common and undetectable. While responding to it, Wysiana Patricia created the Tiffany shield that uses electromagnetic induction to integrate into bags. The product emits infrared to disrupt the visual recordings taken underneath the product. This in turn alerts the perpetrator and discourages them from future acts.
One of the newer locations of abuse and harassment is at workplaces. Though the hostility in work environments is an old story, the recent years have seen a strong retaliation from the victims and survivors to bring to the limelight the unfortunate incidents at workplaces. Chloe McCourt’s design of Tiffany Apprise detects the tone of voice and physiological changes and warns a preparator that they are causing distress. Additionally, if this behaviour repeats, a recording of the behaviour will be directly sent to HR to avoid victim repercussions.
Spiking drinks has become a recurrent scenario in most places. The incidents that resulted from consuming a spiked drink have created much anxiety and concern for women around the world. While sharing the reason behind his design, Henry Copeland shares, “The most common reason to spike a drink is with the intent to rape or cause sexual assault.” Putting forward his solution for the same, Copeland designed Tiffany Sense as a drug detection cup that will be provided at the venues and alert you if the drink has been spiked.
Amid the many initiatives from different industries to address women's harassment, the design world seems to be merging wearable design and fashion into functional products. While many new concepts, designs and campaigns take root in the field, the extended question is, “How long before we stop addressing women's safety as an issue that requires solutions but rather a basic case of equal freedom and respect for all gender?” While the generations before us have raised the question of where does this end, even our current generation who strongly and very audibly posts on their social media about #NotAllMen, seem to take forward the same question of “Where does all this end?”