Condom with “teeth” to fight rape

The hooks on the condom lodge on a male member when penetration takes place.

When South African Dr. Sonnet Ehlers once heard from a patient, a rape victim, that she had wished she had teeth down there, an idea was born. Read the full story here.

The product that Ehlers developed is called Rape-aXe. A woman inserts it and if she then is penetrated, the thing lodges painfully on the penis and can only be removed by a physician.

Of course, the violating act still takes place and that will still be traumatical. However, it might give a grim sort of satisfactory idea that the brute will instantly suffer from his act too.

On the other hand, it might also enrage the rapist even further which might have more nasty consequences.

Suppose that they would catch on and women would be wearing those so often that the average rapist would encounter them regularly, that might deter the average rapist. But I doubt there is an average rapist, and I think few rapes take place when a woman “expects” it.

Apart from those considerations and the other ones mentioned in the article, I can stil imagine how Dr. Ehlers got so gripped by the idea that she sold her house and car in order to get it developed.

(Thanks @amitanurag)

16 thoughts on “Condom with “teeth” to fight rape

  1. But you’d have to wear one all the time, wouldn’t you? I can’t see women doing this but maybe I’m wrong. I also worry about women being killed by angry men in pain but supposedly the pain is sufficiently devastating that women can use the time to escape.

  2. if these became widely enough used as to make potential rapists worry about being snared by one, wouldn’t men simply start checking for them in the process of committing the rape, and removing them before raping the woman if they’re present?

  3. It was developed, I believe, in the context of South Africa, which has one of the highest rape stats in the world – so high in fact that it may become worthwhile wearing one.

    I also find it difficult to work in practice, but, men, do I like the idea!!!!!!!

  4. The device does not seem to be too promising nor will it bring down rape stats. First it would be practically impossible for a woman to wear it all the time. Second, the trauma is not confined to the trauma of penetration, rather it is more emotional. Third, there is often involvement of more than one man in rape, and here the device will fail even in its primary objective. Fourth, if the device becomes a common practice, rapists will be cautious about it, and will try to ensure there is nothing inside. Fifth, I find it undignified for a woman to wear such a nasty thing round the clock to avert a nasty incident.
    The only job in which the device seems to be promising is in getting the culprit caught and making the job of law enforcement agencies easier. But for African countries, which are high on corruption, it goes without saying that some people will start offering the service of removing the device for a fee.

  5. Amit, you bring up many of the points I posted on my blog about this device earlier today. I 100% agree with you.

    Plus, nobody is really discussing what women with a grudge could do with a device like this!

  6. As a man, this would definitely make me think twice if I was a rapist. Having that thing with its teeth embedded and digging into my manhood would be absolute torture…and the only way to get it off would be to go to the hospital to have it surgically removed on top of that? Ouch!!! I would just tell the doctor to perform a sex change operation on me with all that pain and suffering. I think I would be too traumatized to ever use my manhood again on a woman anyways after an incident like that.

  7. The thing might have some empowering potential as a symbol. It’s also true that if one were in some fairly private relationship where forced sex was a possibility, this might be very welcome. E.g., spousal rape. But I’d worry about the abuse that could follow.

  8. I’d like to give my usual rapist-bashing response to this one, but I have to side with the critics today. Last I checked, 1 in 4 people in sub-Saharan Africa were HIV or AIDS positive. The odds of catching HIV from gentle sex with an infected partner are something like 15%, and increase with torn tissues, making it more likely to catch the virus from anal penetration or rape.

    Wouldn’t adding a torn and bleeding penis to the equation greatly increase the odds of HIV infection?

    Also, I’m not sure about South Africa in particular, but in several African cultures there is a myth that raping a virgin will cure a man of the disease. Researchers have pinpointed this as the primary cause for the AIDS pandemic in that part of the world. Some of the rape victims are as young as 2 years old. The vagina dentata device will do nothing for the girls at highest risk of victimisation due to this belief.

    I agree with Amit’s 3rd point as well. In a gang rape or a paramilitary action, a girl will get her arms hacked off with a machete for using such a device. In South Africa, I believe the preferred method of torture is a tire forced over the victim’s head and on to his/her neck. Assailants then douse the tire with kerosene and set it on fire.

  9. Oops. The doctor sold her house and car to develop this? Here’s a suggestion to make that criticism more constructive. POISON. Slow acting, multiple rapist mutilating, undetectable for several hours, and harmless to whatever material the condom’s made out of, but (eventually) excruciating AND disfiguring for the rapist.

    Of course the lady would have to be extremely careful about leakage. Are there any chemists out there who can translate my love of genre fiction into something with real life value?

  10. I dont think it will enrage the rapist any further because the hurt must be TOO big… he’ll literally die on the pain. And he deserves to.

  11. Xena: I’m sure I remember the creator claiming that it didn’t cause bleeding (and thus the potential for disease transmission), but I’m not sure how that squares with “hooks cause massive pain”.

    As to your love of genre fiction, there’s some prior art here: one of the protagonists of Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash wears a similar device with a hypodermic needle inside loaded with sedative.

  12. hey, all (Hi, Xena!)….I’ve always been uncomfortable listening to and reading about “rape-revenge” fantasies, because I’ve always thought it breeds a tremendous amount of fear and distrust among women toward men. And I believe that if men are feared and distrusted, they respond in anger, or allow whatever violent tendencies were there to begin with to surface, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Yes, men who rape and otherwise victimize women are the lowest forms of life. Yes, they deserve to be punished and, tragically, they often are not. Yes, the fantastic elements of it appeal to my horror-loving side (how about STINGING NETTLES?! Eeech…or some kind of parasite that worms its way under the skin and leads to slow, creeping death? Jeez, you could start a whole line of these nasty products…).

    But the side of me that wants all men to NOT be abusers and all women to NOT be victims thinks the idea of constantly living in fear of being raped and in fear of men in general must be a kind of torment. What kind of life would I have if I woke up every day and inserted my serrated condom, just in the off-chance? (And somehow I doubt they’re re-usable, like contact lenses or something).

    I will also point out, if a man is THAT hell-bent on getting that thing inside, there are OTHER holes to penetrate, condom or no. As a friend of mine once said “If your eyes and your ears were big enough, they’d be game, too…” How do you protect every one of them?

    As Amit pointed out, the emotional trauma is the worst part of a rape–if a rapist wants to inflict sexual violence on a woman, he doesn’t even have to use his penis to penetrate her. I’m thinking of inanimate objects now…How the hell did I get on this train of thought?

    Someone else once said if a man is impotent, he picks up a gun….Emasculating a violent man is some serious business, as Xena and others have pointed out. If a man hates a woman enough to rape her, what will he do when he finds out he can’t?

    OK, this is a slippery-slope argument, but I don’t want to live in a world where this device is commonplace, or in one where men are so universally awful that I can’t walk out the door without wearing one.

  13. synaesthetik: i completely agree with what you’re saying!…but then as soon as i do, i worry do we just not know what it’s like, living in a place w very high risk of rape? do you and i think it’s terrible to live this way because we haven’t lived *that* way?

  14. Response to extendedlp: This may sound bad, and please don’t take it as a flame, but isn’t there an inherent xenophobia in attitudes (“living *that way*”) toward Third World countries? “Those men over there are animals, wouldn’t you say?” Plus the assumption that all sub-Saharan women MUST live in fear for their lives.

    What about the ordinary middle-and-working class people, the ones with families (the ones who aren’t criminals)? In other words, the other 3 out of 4. Somehow I doubt they “live like that,” either. While many things are different “over there,” I’d say from what I’ve read, the ordinary people have way more of a sense of family and community than we do here, so what does that say?

    Sure, my leftist liberal humanist white North American guilt feels like I undermine the suffering of the countless rape victims who do “live like that,” but that same white guilt makes me believe in the best of people…even the ones “like that.”

  15. Yeah, I’ll take it S. You met my Congolese friends, didn’t you? Lovely people. I didn’t even mind the church services so much. Singing gospel in harmony with MC was like…Never been to heaven but I kinda like the music…never gonna lose it…

    Charlize Theron’s one of my favourite celebs too. So NOT vain OR fake about her looks. She knows they’re temporary, accidental, subject to the whims of the beholder, and trivial compared to the strength of character and justice for other abuse survivors that she strives for. She said that aspiring to good character over “beauty” is the cultural view that she is most proud of. She finds the American obsession with “beauty” odd.

    Maybe I was overidentifying with the doctor a little. Sux to lose everything to try to help a victim in a horrible conundrum, know what I mean?

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