When Crystal Sanchez learned that her best friend had been raped in a college celebration, she wanted to do something to prevent other women from enduring the same situation that is all too common on college campuses.
She then decided to create the Guardian Locket, a safety device built as a necklace and connected to the user’s cell phone that sends out different alerts when activated.
“When pressing the button you receive a false phone call to scare away the potential attacker. It also sends photos of your face, your exact location and three consecutive text messages to three contacts and to the Campus Police,” explains Sanchez, a student at the University of California, Irvine (UCI).
In her senior year at the Environmental Charter High School, in Lawndale, Sanchez began to develop her invention’s technological details along with the business strategy to launch it to the market.
Her project, still in the exploratory phase, won the first place in a competition organized by the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), where more than 2,000 students from across the country participated. A few days ago, Sanchez presented her idea to President Barack Obama in the White House.
“He [Obama] was very was impressed,” said Sanchez, 18 and daughter of Mexican immigrants, about her meeting with the president. “Taking into account the great amount of victims of sexual abuse, he definitively approved this project,” she added.
Shortly after her friend’s sexual aggression, Sanchez worked on a thesis about this issue and got surprised by the statistics.
“We live in a world where a person is raped every two minutes,” she said.
This problem is so serious that just last year the Obama Administration created a workforce to plan strategies to eradicate it, along with the website You Are Not Alone with resources available to help the victims.
“More importantly, we must continue saying to those who have never been sexually attacked: you are not alone. We support you. I support you,” an Obama’s phrase cited in the website.
Sanchez’s new approach is that this crime is particularly serious at college campuses.
According to a White House’s report, one out of five college students in this country has faced some type of sexual aggression and, of these, only 12% reported it to the authorities. But different universities have been accused of lack of impartiality when investigating the accusations along with no support to the victims.
Sanchez is glad to know that her friend reported the attack. She has already overcome it, after undergoing therapy.
“That is very important, because many women don’t talk about their experiences,” she said.
In 2014 California became the first state to pass a law, “Yes Means Yes,” which requires explicit consent from both parties to have sex. This law applies to colleges that receive public funds and changes the outline where the victims had to demonstrate that they had refused or expressed rejection to the sexual encounter.
Kevin de Leon’s SB 967 says that the silence or absence of resistance does not constitute consent, which is defined as “an affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement.”
“Rape is a common crime now. Many of us know a victim”, says Sanchez, who studies Business at UCI.
She wants her invention to be on many women’s neck soon, mainly in college campus and high schools. “I would like this to get very far so that women everywhere to be safe”, she said.