Sexual predators, watch out! The Rape-aXe, an anti-rape female condom invented by Sonette Ehlers, is designed to make unauthorised sex a pain in the vagina. Worn like a tampon, the Rape-aXe is a latex sheath embedded with shafts of sharp, inward-facing barbs. If a woman’s vagina suffers an unwanted intrusion, the attacker’s penis would be snagged by the barbs, causing him excruciating pain during withdrawal and (ideally) giving the victim time to escape. The Rape-aXe can only be surgically removed once it is embedded, so the perpetrator would be identified if he seeks medical treatment. Of course, if he seeks his own treatment, that’s another story.
Ehlers, a South African who has met her fair share of rape victims while working as a blood technician with the South African Blood Transfusion Services, was motivated to create the Rape-aXe when a rape victim remarked, “If only I had teeth down there.” However, her invention has been criticised as “a medieval instrument, based on male-hating notions and fundamentally misunderstands the nature of rape and violence against women in this society” by Charlene Smith. Ehlers, in response, called the Rape-aXe “a medieval device for a medieval deed”.
Some critics fear that the use of Rape-aXe could possibly enrage an attacker and further jeopardise the victim if the device fails to incapacitate the man. There is also potential for abuse, in that a woman may wear it just to get a man (e.g. an ex-boyfriend whom she is mad with) arrested for rape.