Sunday, June 20, 2010

New anti-rape female condom debuts in South Africa

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Rape-axe anti-rape female condom
Rape-axe anti-rape female condom

Of all the titles to claim, being the rape capital of the world isn’t exactly the most cheerful, and South Africa has the decidedly dubious honor of being the not-so-proud holder. However, a South African doctor has come up with a contraption that she hopes will dissuade rapists: the first so-called “anti-rape female condom”.

A South African doctor has developed a new female condom that she hopes will combat rape in the most painful way possible.

Dr. Sonnet Ehlers has invented Rape-axe, a female device with jagged hooks that latch onto a man's penis during penetration.

The doctor is distributing 30,000 of these condoms in South Africa during this year's World Cup.

The premise of this device is quite simple:

"It hurts," Ehlers told CNN. "He cannot pee and walk when it's on. If he tries to remove it, it will clasp even tighter."


Rape-axe is inserted like a tampon and when embedded to a man the device can only be removed by a doctor.

Personally, I don’t really know just what to make of it just yet. The general idea definitely seems to be a good one, working in two ways, both to prevent the aggressor from “finishing the act” with the victim and to make it clear what he tried to do when he comes to a doctor to have the embarrassing device removed. However, I see a few problems as well: First, not all cases of rape include vaginal penetration, so if the rapist prefers to molest women in other ways – orally, or fondling, or whatever – then “Rape-axe” is rendered useless. Also, although the idea of rapists walking around with a clear indicator of what they tried to do latched painfully onto their groins sounds both amusing and useful, this also has the potential to be misused in any number of ways, primarily by any woman who wants to play a rather dastardly trick on an unsuspecting partner. I would hope that authorities would require more evidence than merely being “stuck” with one of these anti-rape condoms on one’s penis before declaring the man guilty of attempted (or “successful”) rape. Also, it’s hard to tell, but the condom as is pictured, above, doesn’t look like the most comfortable of devices to insert into one’s vagina, unless it’s smaller and softer than it looks. And Lord knows how most people quickly eschew security just to avoid some discomfort – just look at all those who don’t wear seatbelts.

Is this a good idea and would it really dissuade would-be sexual predators? I don’t know. But I assume that if most women began using Rape-axe – which, in any case, certainly sounds better than the horrifying example included in the aforementioned article of women actually inserting razor blades into their genitals to try and ward off rapists – then would-be rapists would certainly be more hesitant, at the least. But again, there’s no way to gauge its potential efficacy.

Any thoughts?