Woman Launches Product She Hopes Will Protect Women from Sexual Assaults

PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) A local woman wants women to "live their lives boldly and without fear". That's the motto of a company she started. She’s launching a product she hopes will help protect women from sexual assaults.

FOX 29's Shawnette Wilson shows us the wearable technology that could help women and girls in your family.

“It really makes you fearful. It makes you feel like your voice isn't enough." A young woman has haunting memories of a date gone wrong. She says at the end of the night just as she was about to get out of the car the guy she was with raped her.

"I felt defenseless and I felt like there was no way that I could get out of the situation because even though I said no it still happened anyway," she said. We're concealing her identity because she's still dealing with what happened. The victim says at the time she was a college student in her 20's. It was late night but even worse she says it happened right in front of her off-campus apartment and not far from emergency help.

"I was in close proximity to a police station. I was in close proximity to a fire department that's down the street. My roommate was right inside the house. If I could have just done something," she said.

Trapped and assaulted inside a car on a quiet night. The victim says she had nothing to protect her.

"I always thought about guns, tasers, mace and all of those things but those things are scary to me. I feel like when you have those things they can harm you and usually by the time you get to those events you're nervous," said the victim who also says after the attack she realized she needed something to help defend herself if this ever happened again. She found something of interest when she met a business woman and women's advocate at a "Take Back The Night" event on her college campus.

"You are right now in the Roar For Good headquarters. We're in a co-working space called Innovation Center. We are all about diminishing attacks against women using wearable technology and education," said Yasmine Mustafa, CEO and Co-Founder of Roar For Good. They're based in University City.

"Our tag line is "Live your life boldly without fear". There are no restrictions to what you can do. Our goal one day is that women don't have to think of these things when they go outside," said Mustafa.

She and Co-Founder Anthony Gold created a self-defense device disguised as fashionable jewelry. It's called Athena.

"Athena is first line of jewelry. Safety jewelry is what we're calling it. It's named after the Greek Goddess of courage and freedom which we thought was very appropriate," said Mustafa. It's a charm that will have changeable pieces that can be worn a necklace or clipped onto your clothing, a belt, bag or keychain. Athena is an alarm but it also has a silent option. Both will activate a mobile phone app that comes along with it and will send messages to an emergency contact list you set up.

"There's a little button in the middle of the jewelry, you press and hold it and it will automatically launch a very loud alarm. Then it will connect to your phone and send messages of your location to your friends and family and we're also working on a way to call 9-1-1," she said.

The idea was born when Mustafa returned from a six month solo trek across South America a few years ago. It was eye-opening. She says she met lots of different women all with one thing in common.

"I kept hearing from women about times that they had been assaulted  and it was just a reoccurring thing that kept happening again and again no matter where I was," she said.

Then an epiphany: after returning home to Philadelphia to disturbing news in her neighborhood.

"There was a really brutal rape a block from the apartment. A woman was out feeding her meter when she was dragged from behind, dragged into an alley, severely beaten and sexually assaulted. When I read the news story the next day the idea was born. I knew I wanted to do something about it," said Mustafa.

It happened a block away from where she was staying. Eventually Mustafa decided to create an alternative to existing self-defense devices like pepper spray, mace and rape whistles.

"Well what's wrong with them? You're not going to be attacked when they're right there in your hand. You have to pull them out of your pocket, out of your purse. So the first idea was taking existing self-defense tools and making them wearable," she said.

A year later Mustafa and Gold are testing out their invention with online pre-sales through the end of the month before sending it off to manufacturing.

"You ask types of women who should have it. Women on college campuses, women in urban environments, runners, real estate agents anyone doing something in an environment where they might be concerned about their situation and would like to have immediate access to their friends or the authorities," said Anthony Gold. Along with the device Gold says they want to educate men too. He says sexual assaults are a societal issue not a women's issue.

"We didn't want to just put a BAND-AID on the problem. The idea is actually for every one of the Athena devices that we sell that we're taking a percent of the proceeds and investing them in non-profits that are teaching young boys and young girls about empathy, about respect, about empathy about healthy relationships," said Gold.

The young woman still healing emotionally from a rape a year ago feels the Athena device would have helped her more than things like pepper spray which she had but says she never really carried with her.

"It handles it without you ever having to reach for something in someone's face. So automatically regardless if they retaliate, if they hit you, if they harm you like help is already on the way," said the victim.

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