Tuesday, 4 May 2010

‘Rape-aXe’: World Cup fans get barbed condoms

A doctor wants to give out 30,000 anti-rape devices in South Africa

A South African inventor is seeking international donations so she can distribute 30,000 barbed condoms designed to thwart rapists ahead of the World Cup, to be held in South Africa in June.

Dr Sonnet Ehlers encountered fierce criticism from feminist groups when she first developed the 'Rape-aXe' anti-rape device five years ago and has not yet managed to bring her pet project into commercial production. It has never been tested on a live subject.

The Rape-aXe, as reported in the First Post in 2007 when it was called Rapex, looks like a thick condom – transparent, with rows of barbed teeth on its inside surface. Ehlers describes it as looking like a tampon, complete with applicator. It is intended that a woman would insert it into her vagina, where Ehlers says it sits, "very comfortable, very soft – she won't feel it".

If a woman wearing a Rape-aXe is raped, Ehlers believes, the device will latch onto the assailant's penis. She expects a would-be rapist to withdraw immediately in pain and surprise, taking the barbed condom with him like a sort of tag. Critically in a country with an HIV infection rate of almost 18 per cent among adults, Ehlers does not want her barbs to draw blood. She explains: "The hooks penetrate through the skin [but] do not go into the spongy tissue."

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