Can this cup stop date rape?

A new technology promises to detect the presence of date rape drugs in drinks

Katie McDonough
December 10, 2012 11:19PM (UTC)

A start-up called DrinkSavvy is hoping, with a little help from crowdfunding site IndieGoGo, to help stop drug-facilitated sexual assault right where it starts -- in your cup. The tech company is currently seeking funding to complete a prototype for a line of cups, straws and drink stirrers that can detect "date rape" drugs, instantly.

The new line of cups is designed to change appearance, from clear to red stripes, when they detect the  presence of predator drugs like Rohypnol. This discreet color change technology might seem simple, but could be a breakthrough in prevention since a majority of these drugs are odorless, colorless and tasteless. It's not a silver bullet, but it probably doesn't hurt, either.


And according to DrinkSavvy founder Mike Abramson, the company's mission isn't just financial -- it's personal.

"Why do I care about this topic? Within the past three years, three of my very close friends -- and myself -- have been the unwitting victims of being drugged. ... And I want to prevent it from happening to anyone else."

Rape and sexual violence statistics continue to be staggering in the U.S., with more than 200,000 sexual assaults reported each year and an estimated 54 percent of rapes going unreported. Is this "smart" cup enough to make a dent in those kinds of numbers? Maybe, but as Jezebel's Laura Beck suggests, It's mostly a band-aid solution. "I wonder if the drinkware can test for all of the common predator drugs — from GHB to Rohypnol? And I worry that creepy kitchen chemists will evolve to create new drugs that can't be detected by this technology."

Will DrinkSavvy be business-savvy enough to market this technology to bars, plastic cup manufacturers and other prospective clients? While you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who is pro-sexual assault, DrinkSavvy's success will also depend on not interfering with its customers' bottom line. Otherwise the business could be dead in the water.



Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

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