PUEBLA, Mexico – Violence against women in Mexico has motivated one young college student to design high heel shoes with canisters of pepper spray incorporated into the heels as a self-defense accessory.
The project, dubbed Security Taste, was thought up by Ditza Aramburo Gutierrez, a graduate in Textile Design from Iberoamerican University in Puebla, Mexico.
Each shoe has a heel 13 centimeters (5.1 inches) high with a pepper spray canister inside with an eye toward providing women with rapid access to the spray if they find themselves in a threatening situation.
“The pepper gas has a little Velcro that sticks it to the heel. The two heels have two cavities depending on whether the woman is right-handed or left-handed (so that) she can remove (the spray canister) most easily,” the young woman told EFE in an interview.
Aramburo designed five models of her pepper spray heels, all of them created during a four-month period as part of her final thesis before graduating.
“They asked me for a design that would help solve a social problem,” Aramburo said.
In the central state of Puebla, violence against women is on the rise. Between January and September of this year, Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) reported 83 murders of women there.
Among the most recent cases that have shocked society is that of Mara Castilla, a young woman who was killed after getting into a vehicle owned by the private company Cabify. The driver kidnapped her, sexually abused her in a motel and then killed her, according to prosecutors.
A week later, student Mariana Fuentes was murdered after resisting an assault by men in a car registered to the Uber ride-hailing service.
The CNDH has asked the authorities to declare a sexual violence alert in the state with the aim of getting them to attend to the problem and ensuring that women can enjoy lives free of violence.
Aramburo decided to focus her efforts on designing an accessory that would help women defend themselves quickly against an attack.
The young designer said she is often scared to go out on the street, but when she carries pepper spray she feels “safer.” Several years ago, some men assaulted her and snatched a gold chain she was wearing around her neck.
Via projects like Security Taste, the Puebla university is helping students get closer to reality, research and fill a current need.
“We see design as the way to fulfill needs,” Ana Lucia Beldaño Fernandez, the academic coordinator of the Textile Design program at the institution, told EFE.
Now, Aramburo, whose pepper spray high heels could sell for 1,000 pesos (about $53) is looking to get serious about the project with more models and accessories, including items for men, and then begin offering them for sale.