A new condom for women designed with teeth to ward off would-be rapists has been launched by a South African doctor.
Rape-aXe was dreamed up four decades ago by Dr Sonnet Ehlers when as a 20-year-old medical researcher, she met a devastated rape victim who was like ‘a breathing corpse’.
In an interview with CNN, Ehlers told how the woman said: ‘If only I had teeth down down there’ said Ehlers. ‘I promised her I’d do something to help people like her one day.’
True to her word, Rape-Axe has jagged teeth-like hooks that latch onto a man’s penis during penetration.
Once its in place, it can only be removed by a doctor – a procedure Ehlers hopes will be done with authorities on standby to make an arrest.
‘It hurts, he cannot pee and walk when it’s on,” she said. ‘If he tries to remove it, it will clasp even tighter… however, it doesn’t break the skin, and there’s no danger of fluid exposure.’
30,000 of the female condoms are being distributed around the various South African citites where the World Cup football matches are taking place.
Ehlers said that she had taken the proper research and development steps before launching the product.
‘I consulted engineers, gynecologists and psychologists to help in the design and make sure it was safe,’ she said.
Once the trial period is over, they’ll be available for about £1.50 each.
South African Dr Sonnet Ehlers: ‘This will make some men rethink before they assault a woman’
“The ideal situation would be for a woman to wear this when she’s going out on some kind of blind date … or to an area she’s not comfortable with,” Ehlers added.
However critics belive the female condom makes women vulnerable to more violence from men trapped by the device.
It’s also a form of ‘enslavement,’ said Victoria Kajja, a fellow for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the east African country of Uganda.
‘The fears surrounding the victim, the act of wearing the condom in anticipation of being assaulted all represent enslavement that no woman should be subjected to.’
South Africa has one of the highest rape rates in the world, according to Human Rights Watch.
A 2009 report by the nation’s Medical Research Council found that 28 percent of men surveyed had raped a woman or girl, with one in 20 saying they had raped in the past year. It is also believed that 16 percent of the population is living with HIV.
Women take drastic measures to prevent rape in South Africa, Ehlers said, with some inserting razor blades in their private parts.
‘I believe something’s got to be done … and this will make some men rethink before they assault a woman.’
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