At the Vancouver Winter Olympics earlier this year, 100k male condoms were distributed.
But at the South African World Cup soccer games this week, 30k condoms of a different type are being dispersed: They're for women, and they have teeth. Their purpose is to cut rapes short while meting immediate jaws of justice. According to CNN on June 21:
The woman inserts the latex condom like a tampon. Jagged rows of teeth-like hooks line its inside and attach on a man's penis during penetration, [creator South African Dr. Sonnet] Ehlers said.
Once it lodges, only a doctor can remove it - 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."
Ehlers [pictured left] said she sold her house and car to launch the project....
"I consulted engineers, gynecologists and psychologists to help in the design and make sure it was safe," she said.
After the trial period, they'll be available for about $2 a piece....
"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," she said.
South Africa has one of the highest rape rates in the world.... A 2009 report by the nation's Medical Research Council found that 28% of men surveyed had raped a woman or girl, with one in 20 saying they had raped in the past year....
Critics have accused her of developing a medieval device to fight rape.
"Yes, my device may be a medieval, but it's for a medieval deed that has been around for decades," she said. "I believe something's got to be done ... and this will make some men rethink before they assault a woman."
The condom's brand name is Rape-aXe. Watch this very awkward CNN news report describing it...
"Critics have accused her of developing a medieval device to fight rape."
I'm a bit unclear as to exactly what part of that sentence is meant to be a criticism? If a man tries to rape a woman and suddenly finds himself in vast amounts of pain and need of medical attention, then as far as I'm concerned, dude had it coming and deserved every bit of it.Posted by: Keli Hu at June 22, 2010 8:02 PM
Wow. I don't know how this makes me feel. Wow.Posted by: Lynn Read at June 22, 2010 8:05 PM
This story just cries out for some funny one-liners, but in the interests of decorum and tact, I will refrain. Nonetheless, this does have the potential to drastically cut the number of abortions due to rape if it ... uh ... catches on.Posted by: Tom Ambrose at June 22, 2010 8:29 PM
"Ehlers said she sold her house and car to launch the project, and she planned to distribute 30,000 free devices under supervision during the World Cup period."
Posted by: Janet
at June 22, 2010 8:35 PM
Sure, why hold a trial on a bunch of foreigners first?
Couldn't the woman/girl be charged with assault?
This is so weird.
I love this!! I agree 100% with Keli! Rapists deserve this.Posted by: Becca at June 22, 2010 8:35 PM
Wow. I'm completely against contraception, but this thing doesn't even really fit the bill of that. I don't think it really can be called contraception.
This really won't prevent the rape from happening, but will help prevent future rapes by that particular man from happening.
Hopefully rapists will think twice now that this thing is out.Posted by: Amy at June 22, 2010 8:37 PM
How is this post appropriate for a blog on pro-life issues?Posted by: Megan at June 22, 2010 8:41 PM
Megan ... here's the logic: no rape, therefore no resulting abortion AND one less excuse to perform abortions for Planned Parenthood.Posted by: Tom Ambrose at June 22, 2010 8:46 PM
I agree with Tom. And on top of that, abortion and rape have a common source: the objectification/depersonalization of human beings. Condoms with teeth may sound extreme to us, but in a country where over a quarter of men are rapists... that boggles my mind... we should embrace anything that can help.Posted by: Kelsey at June 22, 2010 9:00 PM
The rape condom, ... it's not just for prevention anymore!
"I would gladly use that condom with teeth with a cheating husband/boyfriend lol sweet revenge"
Wives/girlfriends of cheating husbands/boyfriends can now fight back!
This is not the topic for biting humor. That said, and not to poke holes in this great effort, but the opening of the condom stays outside of the vagina. Armed with the knowledge of what may be in store, it won't be long before the rapists simply rip it out before proceeding with the crime.
This advance concern will actually leave more rape victims exposed to seminal fluids than if a normal female condom were used and left in place. It's doubtful that many criminals will now trust seeing one in place. Was that a consideration when consulting psychologists?Posted by: Gerard Nadal at June 22, 2010 9:25 PM
I fear this being used as a revenge tool. Woman has fight with boyfriend, slips this thing in, and watch out!
Yeah, she'd risk getting charged with assault. He said/she said. But in the mean time he's screaming in mortified pain, ready to die as much from embarrassment as from physical agony.Posted by: Christina at June 22, 2010 9:25 PM
This kind of defense is easily discovered by the use of a phallic device before entry.
It might lead to some captures, but it might also lead to increased violence.
Posted by: Chris Arsenault at June 22, 2010 9:26 PM
Obviously this is not a cure-all... but if it makes even one would be date rapist (because I don't think it will have the desired effects on those who plot and plan rape, just the casual "how dare you say no after I buy you dinner" type of thing) think twice, it may be a good thing.
At least it's giving women the message that they don't have to think of themselves as victims.
My ONLY issue with this is A) the potential for abuse, i.e. with 'cheating boyfriends' and whatnot and B) If this thing gets caught on a rapist's penis, he is going to notice pretty fast, and will probably get REALLY pissed. I worry that it could result in more rape/murders as opposed to just rape. Overall, the premise is great, but the application seems a bit iffy.Posted by: Erin at June 22, 2010 10:15 PM
I think you're right in this leading to increased violence. Rapists will see the outer ring and pull out the condom. If they see that it's this device, I fear that the rape will be orders of magnitude more severe, and some even fatal.
That's because rape is primarily an act of violence against women. This can only serve to heighten that rage and violence. If this condom is the difference between the sexual assault and an added degree of savagery, it isn't worth it.
Perhaps the women of South Africa could go on a sex strike until their husbands demand more prosecution and stiffer sentences for rapists.Posted by: Gerard Nadal at June 22, 2010 10:20 PM
I agree Gerard. Rapists are violent people. I think this would put many of them over the top and more women would be killed after being raped.Posted by: Praxedes at June 22, 2010 11:01 PM
This is a very interesting device. I applaud Ms. Ehlers for her dedication in making it a reality.
It would be interesting if studies could be done if this would reduce the rate of rape. Unfortunately I do agree with the posters above. Rape will still occur regardless and men will find someway to subvert this new condom.
The only way to reduce rape in Africa is to shift their cultural attitudes regarding sex, condom use, and HIV. And most importantly, elevate and protect the status of women as a whole.
I highly recommend this New York Times article detailing the many many challenges, touching on the culture of transactional sex demanded by men from women:
I wish Ms. Ehlers all the best in her initiave.
This is an awesome invention. It should come with a boxcutter to slash the rapists throat when he winces.Posted by: truthseeker at June 23, 2010 2:13 AM
But a quibble: rape was never especially mediaeval.Posted by: Louise at June 23, 2010 4:03 AM
Is this still in the concept stage, or did they find some guys dumb enough or financially desperate enough to test this on? That alone is an interesting bioethical issue. Will this device get FDA approval here in the US? Another interesting issue.
Upon further reflection, Christina's point about this being seen as a revenge tool is one to ponder. Women equipping themselves with fanged condoms, inserting them well before being in danger, may very well come to be viewed by a jury as predators themselves out on the prowl.Posted by: Gerard Nadal at June 23, 2010 6:01 AM
Posted by: Christina at June 22, 2010 9:25 PM
When I first saw this the same thing went through my mind. I'd also say there are some out there who might use it as a semi-practical joke in what could be conceived as consensual sex - to teach the creep a lesson!
The whole problem with this approach is the same as arming someone with a gun. Simply giving someone a weapon doesn't defend them and the presence of the weapon makes it likely for it to be used against the carrier.
Using a gun is only effective if the shot is properly placed, or will have a great likelihood of being properly placed. To accomplish that, one has to have a deadly attitude, meaning you're ready to accept the consequence of killing the assailant. This is the hard part about possessing and using a firearm.
I think the presence of the device and practical removal for the woman makes it all to possible to retrieve the device, flip it inside out and ram it back into the woman. Once those teeth are embedded in the walls of the vagina, the rape victim will suffer excruciating pain while being raped. It would be particularly painful if he were to pull out while still hard.
It flips the idea of something defensive into something that perfectly fulfills the rapist's ideal rape kit.
The nightmare is the very device meant to stop the rape being turned into a multi-rape torture device that multiplies the pain a thousand-fold.
I'd rather see a woman defend herself by shooting the rapist between the eyes or reaching up during the rape, pressing her thumbs into the corners of his eyes and literally blinding him for life.Posted by: Chris Arsenault at June 23, 2010 6:58 AM
Y'all remember when ProChoiceGal said we were pro-rape?
I guess not.Posted by: Ashley Herzog at June 23, 2010 8:06 AM
I agree with the comments above, although reluctantly. I've been a victim of child sexual abuse and have been coerced into sexual encounters before, so the idea of making some kind of deterrent like this for a woman to use is a good idea, but in practice this particular one might have some problems.Posted by: army_wife at June 23, 2010 8:18 AM
I've seen a number of arguments AGAINST this idea that I'd like to address:
1. It has been argued that criminals will soon get wise to this and wreak even more destruction on their victims. I don't think so. My guess is that most rapes happen in the dark, very violently and begin very quickly. I don't recall seeing any data on how much such a condom extends outside of a woman's body, despite assertions that it does, but I frankly have a difficult time believing that a rapist is going to have the time or opportunity for a visual inspection. And let's face it, criminals are not the brightest bulbs in the universe to begin with.
2. If criminals who hate women would hate them more because of this so be it ... at least they'll be doing it behind bars instead of committing still more violence against women. Once the device attaches, the ONLY thing they will be doing is trying to figure out how to get it off.
3. As for the argument about vengeful women, such as a scorned lover, this gives men and women just one more reason to keep sex in the bounds of marriage, as God intended. The odds of a wife doing this are likely very small, and these days with women using knives to cut off the anatomy of males they are upset with, this condom actually makes matters more reasonable, not worse.
I think Gerard makes an interesting point about the testing of such devices, but this deserves the chance to be tried nonetheless. Aside from shooting, knifing, macing or tasing an attacker, this condom may be a reasonable backup solution. With so many women being raped in South Africa -- and getting AIDS in the process -- this could very likely save many lives.Posted by: Tom Ambrose at June 23, 2010 10:32 AM
Here's a diagram of how very visible the outer ring is when the condom is in place (WARNING: GRAPHIC!!):
There is no mistaking that it's there.Posted by: Gerard Nadal at June 23, 2010 11:29 AM
Sounds like something a feminista would conceive.
This kind of reminds me of the Charles Bronson 'Death Wish' solution to predatory criminals.
Bait em and wack em.
But the idea of inserting a foreign object into my body just in case I might be raped does not prevent the rape or ensure that I will survive the rape.
Do they make one for males to insert in their anus just in case they might be a victim of a sexual assault?
Actually I have a much more reasonable suggestion to women or men who fear being raped.
Purchase a sidearm, enroll in a concealed handgun class and carry the weapon legally when you go out.
I guarantee you brandishing a firearm will be more likely to deter a would be rapist than waiting til after the rape has begun to injure his 'binky'.
Killing the rapist will ensure that he/she will not be a repeat offender.
Now that would make my day.Posted by: yor bro ken at June 23, 2010 11:37 AM
One only has to travel to South Africa to understand the high rate of rape and the lack of law enforcement to protect women. Yes it's a desperate option, but needed. Just the idea of this will cause criminals to think twice. I'm all for it!Posted by: Brad at June 23, 2010 11:41 AM
If you look at the picture of the condom we are discussing (posted at top of this page) you will notice that there does not appear to be an edge that would wrap outward like the one on the link you provided. The condom you referred to is simply not the same.
Additionally, even if an outer edge could be seen, how would a rapist see it in the dark, and under pressure to commit his ugly deed quickly before he is discovered? Highly unlikely.Posted by: Tom Ambrose at June 23, 2010 11:42 AM
Here is a link to a better photo sowing the semi-rigid outer ring when the condom is not inverted:
Rapists are predators, and as such constantly look for weakness in their prey, as well as potential defenses to be overcome. They'll find a way around this pretty quickly.
That said, I'm with Ken. Shoot them.Posted by: Gerard Nadal at June 23, 2010 12:05 PM
Anatomically, the edge of this thing looks like it would fit around the labia minora and might be hidden by the labia majora. I could very easily be wrong about this, but given the designer's desired use, it seems plausible. The outer edge just doesn't wrap very much at all.
On the other hand, shooting them works for me, as well. You would think the feminists of America would join conservatives in preserving the 2nd Amendment for just this reason, but that does not appear to be the case.Posted by: Tom Ambrose at June 23, 2010 12:21 PM
Posted by: Tom Ambrose at June 23, 2010 11:42 AM
Tom - a rapist wouldn't do a visual - a quick finger exam would indicate the situation in seconds.
BTW - this is not a new device, it's been around now since at least 2007, perhaps earlier.
Gerard's point re: testing - how would the test information be made available. We're not talking foolproof here. If the condom was flipped as I observed was a possibility, would the girl want to make it known it didn't work? Would she have recourse to sue the developer? As I said - that seems a nightmare.
The amount of legal insurance for the manufacturer would indicate the potential backfiring of the device. That it hasn't taken off yet indicates the consumer understands the consequences.
Rape needs to be dealt with by the whole society, because how a culture conducts itself and how it asserts it's authority in dealing with the rapist determines if it's going to be a on-going or growing problem.Posted by: Chris Arsenault at June 23, 2010 12:31 PM
Guys, here's an animation showing proper placement using an applicator.
I don't mean to be graphic, but I don't see how the device stops a rapist from digital penetration to determine if a woman is wearing one of these. If she is, he's got other options to violate her. And if he does determine she has one, can he invert an edge of the condom to injure HER?Posted by: Fed Up at June 23, 2010 12:32 PM
My biggest concern would be that the rapist would be so angry over the contraption that he kills the woman he was raping.
Maybe it's so painful that he's totally incapacitated? If not, I can see huge unintended consequences.Posted by: Lauren at June 23, 2010 1:59 PM
I am not so keen on the fact that a woman has to already be raped for this to work.
This is why the only device I wear to deter rape is a big gun. I also have a big father to this end.Posted by: Jacqueline at June 23, 2010 3:46 PM
Respectfully, this merely offers women another tool to limit the impact of rape. For those who have mace, or tasers, or brass knuckles, or self-defense skills, or knives, or firearms ... great ... I hope such tools succeed when needed.
But for those who get caught off guard, this could make the difference between life and death in terms of being murdered, becoming infected with AIDS, or feeling compelled to abort a child conceived during rape. Nothing says this device has to be used to the exclusion of other preventative and protective measures. But if it does its job as advertised, it may very well buy a woman the precious few seconds she needs to escape her attacker.Posted by: Tom Ambrose at June 23, 2010 4:02 PM
I agree with the people saying this has the potential to be misused, both against women and against men with vengeance-minded wives or girlfriends. I can especially see a rapist becoming even more violent upon realizing one of these things got him and killing his victim.Posted by: Marauder at June 23, 2010 4:05 PM
Since the pain from this thing is so great that a man can't even walk, I'm not sure I understand how he would be in a position to hurt his victim.
And as I noted above regarding the argument about vengeful women, such as a scorned lover, this gives men and women yet another reason to keep sex in the bounds of marriage, as God intended.
The odds of an angry wife doing this are likely very small, and these days -- with women using knives to cut off the anatomy of males with whom they are upset -- this condom actually makes matters more reasonable, not less so.Posted by: Tom Ambrose at June 23, 2010 4:51 PM
Will doctors be duty-bound to call the cops whenever asked to remove this device? I can see situations with a couple trying it just 'for fun.' They'd then have lots of explaining to do to the physician AND the police. What about gay men, experimenting? Some people get into pain. Again, would the doctor have to report each such incident to legal authorities, who would then have to determine whether or not a genuine rape had been committed?Posted by: ProlifeMama at June 24, 2010 9:07 AM
If the rapist realizes he will have to go to doc, is he more likely to kill his victim because she is the witness and there is now undisputable proof that sex was not consentual.
Will the rapist be in so much pain that he will be unable to use his hands to strangle her to death while he is on top of her? Will he be in so much pain he will not be able to use a gun or knife if he has one? Once these rapists figure out women are wearing these, I fear women will get get hurt worse and killed more often.
Abortion was touted as something that was going to "even the score" between the genders too but it caused more of the problems it promised to stop.Posted by: Praxedes at June 24, 2010 10:41 AM
It has been argued that criminals will soon get wise to this and wreak even more destruction on their victims. I don't think so. My guess is that most rapes happen in the dark, very violently and begin very quickly. I don't recall seeing any data on how much such a condom extends outside of a woman's body, despite assertions that it does, but I frankly have a difficult time believing that a rapist is going to have the time or opportunity for a visual inspection. And let's face it, criminals are not the brightest bulbs in the universe to begin with. - Tom Abrose
As someone who has been the victim of a sexual assault by a stranger I agree with this statement 100%. A date rape situation would definitely be different, but it seems like this was made to be used by women fearful of a violent attack by a stranger. My attacker was on me so fast I'm guessing he didn't even notice what I looked like before he raped me, much less if I had a few millimeters of latex protruding from my vagina. I probably could have had a pit bull in my pants and he wouldn't have notice until it was too late! (Hmm, interesting idea....)
I did a bit more research about the device and read that it embeds deeper and becomes more painful if the rapist tries to remove it. I think that a man's FIRST instinct would be to try to pull the thing off rather than attack the woman. This would give the victim time to escape quickly.
As far as the condom being used for revenge, if a person is twisted enough to want to cause someone this kind of pain they are probably going to find a way to do it without the availability of these condoms.
I don't know what to say about this -- that thing looks pretty nasty but I have no sympathy for any scum that is "caught" by it.
Just wondering -- would poor women, who most often are the targets or rape, be able to afford this?Posted by: Phillymiss at June 24, 2010 4:31 PM