CBS NEWS: A South African doctor has created a female condom that puts teeth in the fight against rape.
The anti-rape condom, called “Rape-aXe,” features rows of jagged hooks designed to attach to a man’s penis during penetration. Once attached, the condom can only be removed by a doctor – hopefully when authorities can arrest him, Dr. Sonnet Ehlers, the condom’s designer, told CNN.
“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.”
Ehlers said she sold her house and car to launch the project, and she planned to supervise the distribution of 30,000 free devices in cities hosting the World Cup soccer matches. After the trial period, they’ll be available for about $2 apiece, according to CNN.
“The mother of two daughters said she visited prisons and talked to convicted rapists to find out whether such a device would have made them rethink their actions,” CNN reported. “Some said it would have.”
Critics say the condom makes women vulnerable to violence from men trapped by the device.
It’s also a form of “enslavement,” Victoria Kajja, a fellow for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the east African country of Uganda, told CNN. “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.”
Kajja added that the device reminds women of their vulnerability.
“It not only presents the victim with a false sense of security, but psychological trauma,” she added. “It also does not help with the psychological problems that manifest after assaults.”
But she acknowledged that the device might allow justice to be served.
Rape convictions are rare in most African countries, according to CNN. Victims don’t get immediate access to medical care, and DNA tests to provide evidence are too expensive.
Women take drastic measures to prevent rape in South Africa, Ehlers said. Some go so far as to insert razor blades wrapped in sponges in their private parts.
Critics have said the device is like something out of the Middle Ages.
“Yes, my device may be medieval, but it’s for a medieval deed that has been around for decades,” she told CNN. “I believe something’s got to be done … and this will make some men rethink before they assault a woman.”