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"Rape Condom" Can Protect Women from Attackers

A device is on the market that can supposedly protect women in case their worst nightmare comes true -- they are raped. The device will cause great pain to the attacker, giving women time to escape.

Called "Rape-aXe," it is basically a female condom. But inside the condom are sharp teeth that, just like those tire spikes in garages, allow entry but not exit (at least without severe injury). The spikes bite into the attacker, just like the tire spikes destroy tires. In addition to allowing women to get away, the only way to remove the device is at a hospital, so the attacker will have to seek help and be reported and arrested.

Rape-aXe is the brainchild of a South African woman named Sonette Elhers. She is a blood technician and has treated many rape victims (South Africa's rape rate is among the world's highest). Elhers said one victim lamented "If only I had teeth down there." That sparked the idea, and an anti-rape product was born.

The device is controversial in South Africa, where it is primarily used. Lisa Vetten, from the Center for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, South Africa writes:

It is like we are going back to the days where women were forced to wear chastity belts. It is a terrifying thought that women are being made to adapt to rape by wearing these devices ... Women would have to wear this every minute of their lives on the off-chance that they would be raped.

Rape survivor, journalist and activist Charlene Smith says she believes the device will increase the victim’s risk of being killed. She has concerns that rapists who are not completely incapacitated by the device may become so enraged that they will kill their victims.

Ehlers acknowledges the risk, writing on her website:

Regrettably, you are always at risk being killed by your assailant. Rape-aXe will buy you time to get away (I know this from a patient who caught him self in his zipper. Rape-aXe will have the same effect, just worse). Luckily, rapists do have brains. They lose it for a few moments, when their blood rushes to a certain body part, after that he will realize that (he) is tagged and he knows he will be in double trouble should he kill you.

Smith also called it "a medieval instrument, based on male-hating notions and fundamentally misunderstands the nature of rape and violence against women in this society."

Ehler's response?

A medieval device for a medieval deed.


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