The Guardian Locket: Sexual Assault Prevention in the Digital Age

Despite the recent wave of feminism, which is both promisingly reinvigorated and unapologetic, rape culture persists as one of the most disturbing effects of sexism. In England and Wales alone, approximately 85 000 women and 12 000 men are raped yearly, which means roughly 11 rapes occur every hour. With 1 in 5 women aged 16-59 having experienced a form of sexual violence, it is terrifyingly evident that we still live in a world in which rape is not only prevalent but, with only 15% of these sexual assaults being reported to the police, accepted as a component of our society.

With such statistics existing, one young woman, Crystal Sanchez, 18, hopes to make women feel safer and protected with her unique approach to sexual assault prevention. Sanchez’s Guardian Locket is a form of protection disguised as a necklace. A small button is discretely positioned on the locket’s back, which once pressed, activates the cellular chip within the locket and causes the wearer’s own cell phone to ring in the hope of either scaring the attacker away or at least distracting them. If the button is pressed twice, three consecutive text messages are sent to the wearer’s three emergency contacts that are earlier programmed through the Guardian Locket app. The first text message sent notifies that the wearer is in trouble, the second text message includes a photo of the wearer’s face and the third notifies the contact of the wearer’s exact location. By bringing sexual assault prevention into the digital age, Sanchez hopes to reduce the number of sexual assaults in the U.S.

Sanchez’s idea was first inspired when she learned that her friend had been raped, after which she devoted her high school senior thesis to sexual assault on women. After having won the Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge last month, the $25 000 prize money is going towards developing the Guardian Locket and her company. With $5 of every locket sold being donated to the non-profit organisations Peace Over Violence and Take Back The Night, Sanchez hopes not only to help women in the immediate future from sexual attacks, but also contribute to organisations that are working towards dismantling the institutions, which preserve rape culture.

(Photo credits: LaOpinion)

Although the Guardian Locket is a great and innovative take on sexual assault prevention, the product opens up a space for discussion on rape culture and responsibility. Although the Guardian Locket website speaks of rape affecting women, men and children, the distinctly ‘feminine’ choice of a locket, as opposed to a gender neutral bracelet for example, targets a female audience. Whilst women are victim to the huge majority of sexual assault, sexual violence against men cannot be ignored and through Guardian Locket’s product design, men are denied this form of protection.

(Photo credits: Crystal Sanchez, via USA TODAY)

Moreover, again and again responsibility is placed on the victim. We are constantly told not to go out scantily dressed, not to walk alone when it’s dark, to be cautious of how we are talking and engaging with our peers. The Guardian Locket is again placing the responsibility on the victim to protect themself from sexual assault, instead of addressing the real problem that lies with the attackers.

However, the reality is that we still live in a world in which prevention is necessary and without proper sex education and sexual consent workshops geared towards possible attackers, this reality will never change. The Guardian Locket is a fantastic form of sexual assault prevention, but we must work towards making such products irrelevant. Change needs to occur at an institutional level, so that potential victims are not expected to take extra precautions for their safety, but rather potential attackers are educated and rape culture is no longer an accepted component of our society.