t was in 2004 that students at National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Delhi, first tried to use electric jolts as a deterrent against sexual assaulters in the capital. But it is the recent horrendous cases that urged them to fall back on their idea and create an anti-molestation jacket which they hope will provide women with an economically viable and efficient gadget for self-defence.
Created by Nishant Priya and Shahzad Ahmad under the guidance of Dr Noopur Anand, the jacket works on the principle of giving an electric shock to the assailer through metallic contact points on its outer surface.
"The jacket is inspired by 'stun gun' devices which work on the principle of momentarily shocking the person into immobility with a low-voltage pulse delivered between two electrodes. A well-placed shock has the effect of temporarily immobilising the person. The jacket is made with two design options, where one variation draws its inspiration from the traditional knotting method and adda-work, while the other one is made with denim fabric," says Priya.
Currently available in blue and black and designed with a hidden switch on its sleeve or pocket, the sample jackets cost around Rs 1,500. Explaining its working, she says, "The human nerve cells use electrical signals for communicating with the brain. A stun gun works by disrupting this communication. If an electric current of sufficient magnitude is conducted through a human body, it will override these electrical signals, overloading the nervous system and preventing both reflex and volitional signals from being able to actuate muscles."
She further adds that the muscles are confused by this disruption and the ensuing electrical shock results in contracting and expanding them rapidly. This rapid work cycle depletes blood sugar by converting it to lactic acid in seconds. "The resulting energy loss makes it difficult to move. This causes disorientation, loss of balance and leaves the attacker in a passive condition for several minutes. Still, there is no significant effect on the heart and other organs," she says.
But is it not a non-viable means to fight molesters? What is a girl supposed to do when not wearing the jacket? "It is only a means of 'buying time' and works by surprising the assaulter and deterring him from approaching further, while giving her time to escape or call for help," says Anand. Ahmad also agrees that the jacket is not a combat suit, and is only meant to shock the assaulter and numb his senses for a few minutes.
On asking if women are supposed to wear the same thing every day, Priya says, "Multiple design options can be made available in denim, knotted pile, and leather. Your entire range of jackets can be replaced with these." According to the team, like any other lined-jacket it will be clammy to wear in peak summers, "but in night, even during summers, it may not be very uncomfortable to wear."