August 1, 2023 | View PDF
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Rape is one of the most heinous crimes a man can commit against a woman. It has existed since before the dawn of history and has remained a serious problem in many parts of the world right until the present day.
A 2001 WHO study revealed that 20% of women worldwide had been rape or attempted rape victims at least once. In 2011, the CDC said that one in five women in America are sexually assaulted, and more than 40% are under age 18.
Rape preventing devices are relatively recent. The earliest ones were chastity belts, which were first introduced in about the 1400's. They remained popular in many cultures up until Victorian times in the 1800's and sometimes beyond. Needless to say, they were very uncomfortable.
More radical devices began at least as early as the Vietnam war in the 1960's, when soldiers took liberties in raping women in the local villages. During that time, in Vietnam and neighboring countries, the local people developed anti-rape devices made from short pieces of bamboo lined with sharp blades.
To make one, a piece of bamboo with a node on one end was selected for a suitable size and length to fit comfortably in a woman's vagina. Rough edges were polished off to ensure comfort. The piece was then split lengthwise to facilitate installation of the blades—anywhere from one to perhaps as many as four. The simplest design was a razor blade mounted horizontally about halfway down, which would slice a penis lengthwise anywhere from a few millimeters up to perhaps two inches, depending on the force of the input. Other designs might contain pointed blades facing downward with the sharpened edges on their back sides, allowing the penis to slide in, but cutting it on the way out. The two bamboo halves were securely glued back together, for strength and also to function as a condom to prevent impregnation and venereal diseases.
Although popular, they were condemned by others who had softer hearts for violent criminals instead of their victims.
In much of the world, and especially in African countries, rape convictions are rare. Victims have little access to medical care, and DNA tests to track down rapists are expensive.
In Post Apartheid South Africa in the 1990's, rape escalated to explosive levels, and it has now become “The Rape Capital of the World.” A University of South Africa study estimated 2,777 rapes per day—a total of 1 million every year—plagued the country. Anti-rape activist Charlene Smith claimed that a South African woman is now raped every 26 seconds—40% of them children, and 65% gang-raped. Successful convictions continue to be few. People in nearly all of the country are terrified. Some women resort to drastic measures, right up to wrapping razor blades in sponges and inserting them into their vaginas. No wonder South Africans have vowed to take serious action.
In 2000, Jaap Haumann (a South African) designed a tampon-like device with “a hard cylindrical plastic core containing a tensioned spring blade primed to slice... the tip of a penis... in effect performing a minor penectomy.” Haumann figured that a million women would buy and use it. Critics claimed it was barbaric. Sales never materialized, and the media ridiculed him.
Sonette Ehlers, who worked at the South African Blood Transfusion Service, met many rape victims. One of them told her, “If only I had teeth down there.” That was Ehlers' “eureka” moment.
On August 31, 2005, Ehlers unveiled a condom-like anti-rape device she called RAPEX. (In 2006, the name was changed to Rape-aXe because RAPEX is also a European warning system against dangerous goods on the market).
The Rape-aXe is “a latex sheath embedded with shafts of sharp, inward-facing barbs that would be worn by a woman in her vagina like a female condom.” A rapist's penis would easily slip into the device, but upon withdrawal, the barbs would snag it and cause “excruciating pain,” distracting and disabling him and allowing the victim time to escape.
The device would remain attached to the rapist's penis, and would only become more painful if he attempted to pull it loose. He would also be unable to run and chase the victim.
The rapist's only option is a hospital emergency room, where it can be safely removed surgically. The hospital can then take DNA samples and detain him for the police.
Unlike the crude Vietnamese devices, and in spite of the pain, the Rape-aXe does not damage the penis or even break the skin. Like an ordinary condom, the Rape-aXe also prevents impregnation and veneral diseases.
Nevertheless, some critics, including many women, have condemned the Rape-aXe for being cruel. It is not. It does no permanent damage, other than some well-deserved trauma for the rapist. WHY are they feeling sympathy for vicious sadists, and none for the victims?
Ehlers consulted engineers, gynecologists, psychologists, and convicted rapists to determine its effectiveness and sold her house and car to begin production. She reportedly distributed 30,000 for free at the 2010 World Cup soccer venues. After a trial period, they would be sold for about $2 each.
Women would not need to wear the Rape-aXe all of the time. Ehlers said, “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.”
Development of the Rape-aXe is still under way. Many prototypes have been made. The cost of production has been brought down to one rand, about 14 cents each—a huge profit margin with a retail price of $2.
But production and marketing are still on hold. WHY? We do not yet know when the Rape-aXe will become available for the public. Many women are praying that it will be very soon. Eighteen years have passed since its introduction in 2005.
ATTENTION, SONETTE EHLERS: Rape victims all over the world have been waiting NEARLY TWO DECADES to purchase your product. STOP the rape pandemic. STOP dragging your heels. Quit begging for donations on GoFundMe. PRODUCE a batch and sell them on Amazon and eBay IMMEDIATELY. Use that 14X profit margin to make more and repeat, again and again. Soon you will have that $310,000 you want for more research and development, if it's even needed.
And ENTREPRENEURS need to come forth and manufacture similar devices, just in case Sonette fails to deliver.
1. Freeman, David, Anti-Rape Condoms: Will Jagged Teeth Deter World Cup Sex Assaults? Rape-aXe Hopes So, CBS News, June 21, 2010.
2. Karimi, Faith, South African doctor invents female condoms with 'teeth' to fight rape, CNN, June 21, 2010.
3. Hyena, Vagina Dentata and the Annihilation of Rape.
4. Rape-aXe prototypes made, but anti-rape condom not yet for sale, September 14, 2020.