It’s a sad state of affairs that in the 21st century, and as far as we have come toward women's equality, there is more concern about violence directed at women today than at any other time in history.
In Australia last year, and presumably this year as well, in addition to the widespread epidemic of domestic violence, many serial sex predators are operating in every state, many of whom have eluded capture for years, if not decades. With technology, the amount of personal information continuously available through social media platforms, dating apps, and geo-tagging, not to mention apps like the iPhone’s “Find Friends,” it seems that technology is making tracking down and stalking victims easier than ever.
In fact, a survey of 3,000 Australians, aged 18-54, found that incidents of online threats, sexual harassment and "revenge pornography" (the non-consensual sharing of nude or partially nude images and videos) have become quite common. And women who dare to take any stance online that counters the male majority opinion are routinely "trolled," being subjected to threats of violence, rape, and death by perpetrators hiding behind a Twitter handle or masked username. Even the United Nations has weighed in on the topic, pointing out that “…almost three quarters of women online have been exposed to some form of cyber violence.”
In the United States, technology has inadvertently aided assailants in their assault and murder of women through multiple outlets. One example illustrating this tactic is "The Craigslist Killer," who met and killed his victim via the popular online classifieds ads site Craigslist. In today’s ever-connected society, where dating, meeting up, and “hooking up” are all somewhat blindly digitally arranged, it has become increasingly easy to implicate technology in many of the acts of violence toward women.
But in technology’s defence, there is an emerging line of wearable technology products that can actually save a woman from being assaulted. A long way from the Care Alert emergency call button necklaces worn by senior citizens for decades, this new generation of wearable technology appears to be just another piece of jewellery or benign accessory to the unknowing.
Here are a few of the top choices:
The Nimb Ring is stylish and sleek. Although a bit large for a ring, it still appears to be nothing more than a piece of jewellery. The Nimb pairs with an app on your mobile phone, where you get to input who you want your emergency signal to be sent to – emergency services, family, or friends. Simply press the button for three seconds, and the ring sends a distress signal through your phone's Nimb app to alert your pre-determined responders with your location and profile. The Nimb also has an audio recording device that can come in particularly handy in certain situations.
Another ring, the Mangos Ring performs in a similar manner to the Nimb. Once again, pressing the alert button sends a distress signal through an app on your phone, which sends a text with your location to pre-determined recipients.
This pendant necklace appears to be nothing more than another stylish accessory, but it's packed with technology that connects to your phone via Bluetooth to send an alert to your pre-selected contacts with your location details when tapped twice. There is even an audible alarm that works similarly to the panic button on your car remote.
There are several other styles of smart jewellery and devices, which all function in very similar fashion as those already mentioned. Some of the more popular are:
1. Safelet Bracelet – Pairs with a matching smartphone app to let you build and notify your “guardianship.”
3. The Allen Band – Looks like a bracelet-style fitness device, but can send an emergency SOS signal in addition to monitoring heart rate and body temperature as well as being able to detect falls, lack of motion, and GPS location.
4. Revolar – Another clip-on device that pairs with a matching smartphone app. Sends colour coded alerts based upon the number of times the distress button is pressed. One click = routine check in. Two clicks = request help from family or friends. Three clicks = emergency services dispatched to your location.
5. Siren Ring – Literally a siren. This ring produces an audible 110 Db alarm, able to be heard up to 50 feet away. The point though is that at close range, the alarm is piercing and serves as a deterrent to would-be attackers.
Although any one of these devices can significantly increase your chance of receiving timely assistance in an emergency, most of them send your distress signals through your smartphone. If you are in an area where cell signal is dodgy or non-existent, your distress signal won't make it out. Likewise, if your phone is turned off or the battery runs out, any SOS you attempt to send out will not transmit.
In the digital age, the best policy is still to always make sure someone knows where you are going, who you are going with, and when you'll be checking back in to let them know you're okay. For all the good technology has brought about, including wearable safety devices, sometimes keeping it old school analog is the safest bet.