In India, rape is a depressingly common occurrence. According to official statistics, rape is the fourth most common crime against women in India; nearly 25,000 women reported being raped in 2012 alone, and the actual number of rapes that occurred that year are believed to be far higher.
To help Indian women protect themselves against rape, Vodafone tasked Oglivy Mumbai with designing an umbrella that also, when open, coaches women on how to use it like a weapon. And while that seems like an approach to rape prevention worthy of Oswald Cobblebot), it’s actually smarter than you think.
First, some context. In India, millions of men from remote areas have been forced to leave their families to work in bigger cities or abroad. Vodafone runs a money transfer service called M-Pesa which allows these men to send money home to their wives, who can pick up their money locally. But being attacked when actually collecting the money remains a major issue for those women.
Vodafone distributed 200 umbrellas to woman in villages in the Uttar Pradesh province and plans to roll out the project to other provinces including Bihar, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Punjab. The umbrellas don’t become swords, tasers, or machine guns, but when combined with the right techniques–jabbing, opening it up in an attackers face, etc.–its creators believe it can be an effective self-defense tool.
That’s a great approach to this problem. First, India has the world’s highest population of illiterate adults, with a full 63% of the population unable to read or write. The Self-Defense Umbrella’s diagrams teach women self-defense principles without assuming literacy, many of which can be practiced even if they don’t have their umbrella on them.
Even just from a promotional point of view, this is a clever product. Umbrellas are a common promotional give-away, because they’re relatively cheap to make and people tend to keep them around. What’s a better way to engender brand loyalty than to use a cheap promotional give-away to help your customers defend themselves from a violent, violating, and distressingly commonplace crime?
[via Boing Boing]