A popular TikTok video, which has attracted over 70 million views worldwide, showcased a keychain filled with tools – including seat belt cutters, small knives, knuckle dusters, and kubotans, long sticks designed for stabbing or window breaking.
The promotional video, captioned “self-defence tools that every girl needs”, demonstrated how to use a glittery canister of pepper spray and a bejewelled lipstick taser.
These keychains are sold in New Zealand for around $50 and have alarms and LED lights for added security and visibility.
New Zealand business, JNB Safety Keychains, is among the sellers which promoted self-defence products on TikTok.
Owner Jemma Feaver said she decided to sell self-defence products as “we are living in a pretty crazy world at the moment”.
JNB Safety Keychains NZ has sold about 250 keychains since it launched its range in March.
Feaver said she wants women to feel safe on the street and “have the items needed to help in a dangerous situation”.
Feaver said the keychains should not be used to injure.
Christchurch woman Sally* was given a self-defence keychain by her niece who was concerned about her safety in the Burwood area.
Sally has lived in the area for more than three decades – 19 years at the same address – and felt unsafe in her home following car break-ins.
In March, a group broke into her sister’s car and at least 15 other vehicles on the same night.
Sally’s family has since experienced two more car break-ins, leaving her concerned about her property and safety.
“Especially when my sister and I both start work really early in the morning and it’s dark when we leave home.”
Sally has continued to carry the keychain regularly as the alarm and whistle made her “feel more in control”.
But self-defence experts are concerned about the popular items.
Proactive Martial Arts head Instructor and owner, Nigel Stupples, said self-defence keychains “are absolutely useless”.
“It might give them confidence, but I can tell you right now from someone in my position it’s a false sense of confidence.”
Stupples said having self-awareness and knowing how to prevent violence is a better way to stay safe.
The inclusion of weapons in self-defence keychains may also pose a legal issue in New Zealand.
Police senior media adviser Caitlin Moorby said some items on self-defence keychains are offensive weapons.
The law also requires consideration of someone’s reason for carrying it and the “circumstances of the situation”.
Canterbury University senior law lecturer Dr James Mehigan said self-defence is almost never a legitimate reason for carrying offensive weapons under the law.
Mehigan “strongly advises” people not to carry them.
“There might be some very small number of situations where it would be okay, but the law is there to reduce or eliminate the carrying of weapons in day-to-day life, so the threshold to prove that you needed to carry a weapon for self-defence is high,” he said.
Mehigan said he was not aware of any court cases to date, but justifying the offensive weapons on self-defence keychains in court would be “far from easy”.
*Name changed to protect their identity.
By Georgia Walker