It's protection with real teeth - Macleans.ca
 

It’s protection with real teeth

Barbed protection against sexual assault during the FIFA World Cup


 

GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/Getty Images

A condom designed by a South African woman is offering spiky, barbed protection against sexual assault during the FIFA World Cup. The Rape-aXe is a latex sheath embedded with razor-sharp barbs worn inside the vagina like a tampon. When an attacker attempts vaginal penetration, the barbs attach themselves to the penis. When the attacker withdraws, the Rape-aXe remains hooked on. The device must be surgically removed from the penis, identifying the rapist as a criminal to medical professionals.

Sonnet Ehlers, the condom’s inventor, was inspired by a rape victim who said to her: “If only I had teeth down there.” Ehlers planned to distribute 30,000 of the condoms for the World Cup. However, in a region infamous for its HIV-denial and high rape rates, critics say the condoms won’t address the bigger problem—a lack of sex education. Ehlers maintains that, at the very least, the condom’s surprise factor will give women a chance to escape.

Rape-aXe is part of a larger trend that sees an increasing number of South African women opting to use female condoms. Earlier this June, the Female Health Company announced it had fulfilled an order for the World Cup for 3.5 million FC2 female condoms. The condoms are being distributed by the UN Population Fund as part of a campaign called the Global Female Condom Initiative, which oversees female condom programming in 23 countries. The condoms are not a cure-all, but their growing popularity suggests women are eschewing cultural taboos in favour of protecting themselves.


 

It’s protection with real teeth

  1. This idea has merit, both in terms of ending a rape quickly, offering some protection to the victim, and upping the odds that the rapist gets caught and punished. But it doesn't protect the woman from the trauma of being attacked and violated. Nor does it offer any protection if the attacker knows to check for it.

    Wouldn't it be both simpler and more effective just to carry a gun? In general you just have to point it, even if it's unloaded, to gain complete control of the situation before anyone gets hurt.

    Women have a right to defend themselves, and that defense should be in the form of being able to physically repulse the attacker before the woman's dignity and person are violated, not after.

    • The only trouble with carrying a gun to protect oneself against rape is that, quite likely, the attacker is bigger and stronger than she is, and could overpower her, take the gun and use it on her. With this device, she is more likely to come out of it alive.

      There is closure for a rape survivor when the perp is caught, and this device makes that more likely. It's not perfect, but inventions like this are a huge help. I favour martial arts over guns–and the bonus part of martial arts is the fitness aspect and the empowerment of one's own mind.

      • I disagree. With this device I think it's more likely the her attacker would strangle her to death for attacking his manhood. Rage allows people to go over the edge.

  2. Very interesting concept. That'll teach him!

    Yes Gaunilon, you're right, if prevalent, rapists would figure out how to circumvent this 'tool'. I don't agree that all women should carry a gun.

    In the long run, sex education in junior high and up for boys and girls, a decent justice system that supports women, availability of a variety of contraceptives, and access to safe abortions if the woman chooses – this is a viable multi-pronged solution.

  3. These are brilliant! Just knowing that these are being used will probably dissuade a few rapists from trying. I agree that a good justice system would help too, but even up here in Canada where we have good justice, sexual assault isnt taken as seriously as it should be.