Clamping down on rapists in South Africa

Later this month, South African women will be able to purchase the Rapex device, marketed as the “anti-rape condom.” The rapex, shaped like a female condom, is worn internally and equipped with 25 teeth in its lining. The razor-sharp teeth fasten on the attacker’s penis if he attempts penetration. Since the device does no lasting ...

602667_rapex5.jpg
602667_rapex5.jpg

Later this month, South African women will be able to purchase the Rapex device, marketed as the "anti-rape condom." The rapex, shaped like a female condom, is worn internally and equipped with 25 teeth in its lining. The razor-sharp teeth fasten on the attacker's penis if he attempts penetration. Since the device does no lasting damage to the attacker, it is completely legal and will sell for 1 Rand (around 14 cents) when it hits stores. The majority of women surveyed about the device said they would be willing to use it.

The inventor of Rapex, South African Sonette Ehler, a former medical technician, got the idea when a traumatized rape victim lamented to her, "If only I had teeth down there."

Of course, the product is not without controversy or critics. Some argue that the device may encourage rapists to attack their victims further, placing women in even greater danger. Ehler's response is that women are already faced with that danger, and at least this way the man is disabled momentarily, allowing the victim to get away. Others criticize the method as "vengeful," to which Ehler responds: "[It's] a medieval device for a medieval deed." More philosophically, some argue that the idea places the burden of stopping rape on the victims rather than the perpetrators. But the reality, according to Ehler, is that "[n]obody can make you safe except you." Given that South Africa has the highest per capita rate of rape of any country in the world, at a reported 119 per 100,000 people (which translates to around 1.7 million women raped each year), she may have a compelling argument.

Later this month, South African women will be able to purchase the Rapex device, marketed as the “anti-rape condom.” The rapex, shaped like a female condom, is worn internally and equipped with 25 teeth in its lining. The razor-sharp teeth fasten on the attacker’s penis if he attempts penetration. Since the device does no lasting damage to the attacker, it is completely legal and will sell for 1 Rand (around 14 cents) when it hits stores. The majority of women surveyed about the device said they would be willing to use it.

The inventor of Rapex, South African Sonette Ehler, a former medical technician, got the idea when a traumatized rape victim lamented to her, “If only I had teeth down there.”

Of course, the product is not without controversy or critics. Some argue that the device may encourage rapists to attack their victims further, placing women in even greater danger. Ehler’s response is that women are already faced with that danger, and at least this way the man is disabled momentarily, allowing the victim to get away. Others criticize the method as “vengeful,” to which Ehler responds: “[It’s] a medieval device for a medieval deed.” More philosophically, some argue that the idea places the burden of stopping rape on the victims rather than the perpetrators. But the reality, according to Ehler, is that “[n]obody can make you safe except you.” Given that South Africa has the highest per capita rate of rape of any country in the world, at a reported 119 per 100,000 people (which translates to around 1.7 million women raped each year), she may have a compelling argument.

Prerna Mankad is a researcher at Foreign Policy.

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