Yasmine Mustafa, CEO of ROAR, said friends and family told her she shouldn’t travel alone, because she was a woman, before she left for her six month trip to South America last year. Some of them sent her articles about Natalee Holloway and other women who had been murdered while traveling abroad.
She went anyway, hearing stories about the violence women endured every where she traveled. “When I was traveling, every hostel that I stayed at I met someone that was either raped or someone attempted to rape them–and I stayed at over 20 hostels in six months,” Mustafa said.
Soon after arriving home, a woman was raped a block from her apartment. The incident helped spark the idea for ROAR.
ROAR (which is still in development) will be a jewelry line of safety accessories embedded with a high-pitched alarm and intense light. ROAR will essentially be a module that could be inserted into multiple types of jewelry — bracelets, necklaces or attached to a key chain, a belt or purse.
“Right now one in six women in the US will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. One in four women on college campuses will be sexually assaulted and those numbers are just mind blowing, and overseas it’s even worse–it’s one in three–and it’s under reported,” Mustafa said. To date, 390 people have been victims of rape this year in Philadelphia, according to the Philadelphia Police Department, and there were 1241 rapes reported in 2013.
However, Mustafa said she found that most women are terrified of using current self-defense products like pepper spray or stun guns. So she came up with the idea for ROAR as something that was safe and could not be used against you. The device, once triggered, not only activates the alarm and light, but also alerts family, friends and authorities. ROAR will also include a mobile application to provide extra security by enabling women to be more aware of their surroundings. It will send push notifications and an alert to the jewelry that vibrates when the user is approaching an unsafe location.
“It’s basically a crowdsourced crime awareness app, that pulls in the Philly Crime API and let’s you know where the dangerous areas are based on the API, but also based on user tips,” Mustafa said.
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Mustafa and the rest of her ROAR team will launch a Kickstarter later this summer once the device’s prototype is finished. The device should launch early next year. Once the device is available for purchase, one device will be donated to a woman in a developing country for each device sold.
“To have this need to protect ourselves, it shouldn’t be that way but it is. What I’m hoping to accomplish on another level with this is to empower women to live how they would normally live without any restrictions,” Mustafa said.