South African doctor invents "anti-rape" female condoms with "teeth"

Sonnet Ehlers, a doctor in South Africa, has designed, patented, and manufactured an "anti-rape female condom" with the unambiguous brand name Rape-aXe. Women who believe they are at high risk of being raped insert the device into themselves like a tampon, and wear it around indefinitely as a form of protection when anticipating risk. The "teeth" inside cause intense pain and potential injury to a male upon penetration, and basically clamp down, making exit from the device painful. The thing does leave damage. Snip:

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. "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. She hopes the women will report back to her.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. The design is ingenious, and it's certainly an interesting thing to talk about in a blog post. But I think I agree with the concerns of critics who say the device isn't a real solution to the problem of rape, and I worry that it could place the women who use it at higher risk for violence from men who find their "parts" trapped in the thing. Without getting too graphic here—other forms of sexual assault are still possible. And beyond that, the idea of carrying this thing around inside one's body is very strange:
It's also a form of "enslavement," said Victoria Kajja, a fellow for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the east African country of Uganda. "The fears surrounding the victim, the act of wearing the condom in anticipation of being assaulted all represent enslavement that no woman should be subjected to."

"It not only presents the victim with a false sense of security, but psychological trauma," she added. "It also does not help with the psychological problems that manifest after assaults."

That said, have I come up with a better solution?


I can't fault the device's inventor for at least trying to help women at risk for sexual assault, even if she's doing so in a way I might find odd, imperfect, or unorthodox. Her country, South Africa, has one of the highest number of rapes per capita in the world:

A 2009 report by the nation's Medical Research Council found that 28 percent of men surveyed had raped a woman or girl, with one in 20 saying they had raped in the past year, according to Human Rights Watch.

Link to CNN story.

The product website is here, and the FAQ page is pretty intense. This page includes a surreal and explanatory Flash video. The Rape-aXe website includes a "Links" page which bizarrely points to a single external website: a South African resort which is "a haven for bird watching and fly fishing." Not sure what the message is there.

(Images courtesy of Dr. Ehlers / Thanks, Frikkie Terreblanche!)


  1. From the way this is described, I don’t know if I’d worry too much about the would-be rapist attempting other forms of sexual assault once this thing latches on. The little barbs would cause intense pain if the man’s even moving around or trying to walk; if that were me, I’d be on the ground clutching myself, not trying other forms of rape. But then again, I’m not a rapist, so what do I know about its target market?

    1. I think the criticism was more like, if the perp sees the thing, and is aware of what it is before consummating the attack, anal or oral rape are other attack options.

    2. Well, you would think being tased or hit with a stun gun would simply knock people over, but sometimes people just get angry.

      Also, in with the first “Vagina Dentata from Snow Crash” reference!

    1. #5,

      Yeah it needs a fast acting anaesthetic to complete the picture. Every 14 year old skateboard courier should have one.

  2. It seems like the product is about punishing rapists rather than protecting women. The act of penetration would be preceded by enough trauma to potentially leave permanent emotional scars. Presumably the rapist does not find out about the device until penetration, unless the woman informs him of the existence of the device. This is obviously a complex and sensitive issue, but I wouldn’t choose to use the device. Perhaps others would.

    1. Apoxia is correct, this is about spiting the rapist rather than any genuine or ethical attempt to address the issue of rape.

      It is no different to if you had a giant spring loaded mechanical boxing glove that hits back strapped to your body in case someone ever strikes you – that’s ethically wrong regardless of whether it makes you feel better or not. It certainly wouldn’t de-escalate the situation.

      Additionally, this isn’t a passive safety device (eg. like a bullet proof vest) it’s an active device designed to cause injury (eg. like a road spike), that isn’t ethically appropriate IMHO either.

      Everyone wants a solution to rape. This isn’t it.

    2. Well said. As designed, the device itself does not prevent rape.

      The only way the concept of the device can theoretically prevent rape is if rapists become sufficiently fearful, in advance, that they will encounter such a device. But, if they possess that fear, then they also necessarily have advance notice of the device. Such that they will simply check first, have the woman remove it, and/or some take some other action to avoid the device. Then likely take out additional irrational anger on the victim, for having used the device. I agree that the approach does not appear to have been thought out.

      And I disagree that the design is “ingenious.” The principle behind the design is, in fact, exactly the same as that used by many animal traps that have been in use for centuries. An appendage can go in easily, in one direction, but is snagged against a barb if an attempt is made to go in the other direction ( cf. raccoon traps, lobster traps, etc.).

    3. I’m pretty sure this device is for use in places where rape is practically inevitable; not for east-coast Americans that are a ‘bit concerned’ about an attack. Let’s put things in to perspective here people.

      It also isn’t just about the emotional scaring; it’s about STD’s and pregnancy as well. Anal and oral rape is arguably no more preferable from an emotional and physical stand-point; but in terms of health and consequences I think this would still lead to improvements.

      This product won’t solve the problem of rape; but it could improve the health of the women and at the very least deter these sub-humans from that form of rape.

      By no means a solution; but it’s better than anything else they have.

  3. Gobo, I think the point is that if the knowledge is public that women might be using this device, rapists will simply try something else first. Or perhaps make sure the woman isn’t wearing one before an assault. One would hope that, despite actual usage, the public knowledge of the existence of such a device may lower the overall number of rapes, but it’s hard to know what the effect of the rapists knowing this device exists or what happens when they discover this device exists.

  4. I suspect that the likely outcome is that many women will end up beaten severely (if not killed) when an assailant finds out the hard way that a woman is wearing one of these. This solves nothing.

  5. Not a gun owner or anything but if you were anticipating the possibility of being raped it seems a lot safer and more effective to carry a firearm to me.

  6. @thekevinmonster – GAH! I was hoping beyond hope for the first Snow Crash ref. Excellent job sir! On a sober note, I think where there is a will, there is a way and (as in much of Cory’s fiction) criminals evolve as fast, if not faster than the deterrent. If a rapist is committed to ripping off a woman’s clothes in a violent manner, what stops him from checking for a penis trap before he begins the act and ripping it out as well?

  7. This is not going to stop rapes, and risks escalating such attacks.

    As usual, people forget the law of unintended consequences. Said rapist will end up beating up the woman who damaged his organ or fingers or whatever. At best, rapists will start to verify safety by using other phallic objects. At worst, physical attacks will become more violent.

    It would be far more effective to give away 2oz cans of mace to ward off attackers, than to have these female condoms.

  8. I’m all for it. Like gobo says, the Unwelcome Penetrator who found himself in this thing’s fond embrace might not be in the best position to exact revenge, assuming its wearer pops free quickly enough.

    But sooner or later, human nature being what it is, someone’s gonna forget to take out her Rape-aXe before a legitimate tryst, and hoo-boy.

    But I don’t even mind the potential for deliberate misuse. With the historical misdeeds of our gender well in mind, all of us menfolk should approach the Holy of Holies with cautious respect emanating from the Poley of Polies.

    In short, if you’re about to enter a chamber that houses one of these wee beasties, there must have been a whole lotta advance warnings that Thou Shouldst Not Enter, For There Be Tygers Therein.

    Overdue, sez I.

  9. Is this a trap that is both removable and visible? Maybe we need to rethink this strategy.

  10. In all seriousness — is there a chance of a woman forgetting to take this out before having consensual sex?

    Not having a vagina, I can’t imagine what this would feel like to have inside me.

    1. I gotta think the chances are quite slim… but not quite zero.

      Ahhh, life gets a tad more interesting every day!

  11. The argument that Rapex must solve the deeper, underlying issues of rape or that Rapex doesn’t stop alternative forms of rape (anal/oral) is a false one. Just because Rapex doesn’t solve all forms of violence, isn’t an argument against its usage. It’s like saying seat belts don’t solve all injuries in car crashes so let’s not implement them. It seems like Rapex is trying to solve for a very specific type of rape that may also act as a disabling device in the moment. On balance, it seems womyn who use Rapex seem to be in a better position to combat rape than womyn without. That being said, perhaps the usage of Rapex would incite the rapist to commit battery against a womyn but there would need to be evidence, data, and/or research to support this. Also, I wonder if bleeding could occur inside the Rapex condom and what perils would ensue for a womyn who decided to use such a device.

  12. In most situations, I believe risk is actually a healthier choice than cumbersome precaution. Some precaution is always warranted of course, but too many people live in fear and paranoia, always looking over their shoulder, worrying about an imagined terrorist attack, or using hand sanitizer as a modern ablution ritual.

    That said, the risk of rape in South Africa is very, very real. Much more so than in North America or Europe. In South African surveys, about 1/3 of women reported being raped, and 1/4 of men admitted being rapists. Let that sink in for a moment. It’s a different world over there.

    Whether using these would be better or worse for a woman, I cannot say. Like Xeni, I sympathize with the intent, but I worry about the outcome. Regardless, the risk is very real in a way that most of us cannot imagine.

    1. Wow. Thanks for the wikilink, Christovir… “Different world” indeed. Actually, more like “alternate hellverse.”

      Tell me, is the Rapex available in toddler sizes?

      Must go stare blankly into the air now.

  13. We need a Bechdel test for self defense products.

    “Do you have to carry it around in your vagina, and does it only work after you’ve already been violated? Well then, it’s ok for a woman to use.”

    John Browning’s solution to rape is far less condescending.

  14. How will the rapist not know that it’s there? It seems quite cumbersome. There’s gotta be a better way, and I am seriously not trying to be glib.

  15. i’d be very concerned that a potential rapist who got caught by this would get enraged by fear and pain and become even more violent either trying to get free or trying to exact vengeance.

    “intense pain” is not necessarily debilitating. unless the rapist is completely debilitad, i’d be concerned that this could actually cause more violence.

    i do see how the knowledge of the existence of this device could be a deterrent, though, to a potential rapist.

  16. So if the rapist is HIV positive, she victim now has a bloody penis stuck in her, which may or may not be fully contained by the condom?

    Doesn’t sound like a “sefe” plan to me…

  17. I can’t see this working terribly well for a variety of reasons. Imagine the reaction of a rapist upon finding one of these (either before or after the act), I would assume he would be provoked to further violence.

    Surely if these devices became commonplace rapists would simply ‘look before they leaped’ if you get my meaning which would render them useless.

    I’d go with the poster above – carrying a sidearm. Kinda sucks having to be armed but better than the alternative.

  18. Personally I find this contraption a hoot – but then, I guess I would. And really, it could be worse – like, lined with tiny razor blades, for instance. All in all, I’d say its an inspired invention – it’s up to the individual to work out the bugs. ;-)

  19. Perhaps the device should have some kind of sedative on the barbs so the rapist is knocked out.

  20. Anyone who believes a device like this one, hooked into fully aroused male parts would allow the rapist to do anything but recoil and double over in pain is being a tad naive… one need only graze a mans testes to make him double over, mini fishhooks in the johnson? forget about it.
    Maybe if the rapist was on PCP.
    Personally I think this would be put to good use in American Colleges, Date Rape is still Rape, and a ER trip with one of these nightmares on one’s junk would certainly force the hand of law enforcement to prosecute the rapist IMO.

    maybe it won’t prevent the sexual assult, maybe it is just about punishing rapist’s…


    (of course I’m in favor of castration of convicted rapists, so I may not have the most “enlightened” viewpoint)

  21. How medieval. All arguments against this have already been made, but just wanted to add this is a perversely wrong-minded idea that is so wrapped in good intentions it’s hard to know what to say anyway.

  22. I don’t fully understand the mechanics of this invention, but I guess I’m wondering what it involves in terms of the woman’s anatomy. Is this something that has to be inserted/removed daily? What if I’m on my period? Does it cause discomfort (I’m thinking about walking around with this contraption inside me) – does it increase the likelihood of vaginal infections / UTIs? How much does it cost?

    I, like many survivors, have wished that there was something that I could have done to punish my offender. But when thinking rationally about this kind of product, I don’t think it is safe or effective. If I was passed out drunk and unable to consent to any sexual activity – couldn’t my perpetrator just reach down and pull this out of me? And the trauma of penetration would still happen even if it worked correctly.

  23. “It’s also a form of “enslavement,” said Victoria Kajja, a fellow for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the east African country of Uganda. “The fears surrounding the victim, the act of wearing the condom in anticipation of being assaulted all represent enslavement that no woman should be subjected to.”


    She’s not in fear of assault because she’s wearing the anti-rape condom. She’s in fear of assault whether she wears it or not. And enslavement??
    That would be from the oppressive “This $#!+ could happen to me!” atmosphere, not wearing something that might rectify it, admittedly after it’d started.

  24. This does strike me as a very quick way to turn a rape into a murder. Even if the rapist with the perforated penis is incapacitated, what about gang-rape situations? A violent man (or group of men) aren’t going to let a rape victim go after she pulls something like that.

  25. I think rapists deserve to have their wankers chopped off. That said, I am skeptical this is a good idea. The problem is that you are escalating the encounter. The best case is that the attacker gets it stuck on him and is incapacitated enough to let the woman escape. The worst case is that the attacker discovers it before insertion and simply removes it and becomes more violent.

    It is like pulling a knife on a robber. They might give up, or it might escalate and you find yourself looking at a gun and a robbery becomes something worse. To make matters worse, as soon as these devices are known, it becomes trivial to check for them, remove them, and exact more violence for the insult. It isn’t like someone who is ripping your clothes off is going to be deterred by having to spend a half second checking for a penis trap.

    So, morally, I am all for this. In practical terms though, I think this might unintentionally make matters worse for a woman who is attacked.

    1. it’s really the same as choosing to fight the attacker, which can also escalate the attack. it’s a choice some women might make fully aware of the risks, knowing that it could provide a chance to get away.

      also, a major factor is that this has the added advantage of protecting the woman from pregnancy. chances are that the rapist isn’t wearing a condom. while the psychological damage of the attack isn’t prevented, some of the other potential long term consequences (and their psychological effects) might be.

      in the us, do i feel like i need this? no. but in a place like south africa where 1/3 of women have been assaulted, i could understand the appeal of a device like this.

    2. “I think rapists deserve to have their wankers chopped off.”

      Interesting noun; but a wanker is a masturbator; not a penis.

      Jus’ sayin’.

  26. I find the comments that are declaring this device a bad idea to be a bit patronizing. At least in that there’s a strong implication that the use of the device should be prohibited. The statements claiming the it is in some way anti-feminist are even ironic. Shouldn’t women decide for themselves whether using the device is worth the risk?

    1. Shouldn’t women decide for themselves whether using the device is worth the risk?

      Thus far no one on this thread has suggested otherwise. That doesn’t mean that the arguments against the relative merits of the device aren’t valid.

  27. Justice rates for rape being what they are, I would feel a whole lot more empowered knowing I’d inflicted intense pain on my assailant, and knowing my risk for pregnancy and infection was minimal. I’d find the experience less traumatic if the duration were minimized. Driving him to medical treatment, or at very least leaving “evidence scars” would be further consolation.

    Sure, there are big picture issues at stake, but it’s up to men to prevent rape, and when society doesn’t provide adequate condemnation and consequences, I can see a product like this giving women at risk the confidence to go about freely.

    1. It’s fresh news because there were cameras in SA for the World Cup last month.

      I don’t know if this was ever intended to be a real thing that people use in the real world, but it’s done more to publicise a terrible social problem than any number of PBS specials and encouraged people to think about realistic ways to make women safe.

  28. Well, this isn’t news.

    It’s not anti-anything but happy rapist.
    First, you _still get raped_, just for much less time.
    Second, you have now seriously injured a violent man who is on top of you, and all his extremities are fully working.

    This isn’t a safety device, it’s a revenge device.

  29. So many comments about how this might make the rapist angry. Who do you think these rapists are – Mister Rogers? They’re already angry and violent. Should women not fight back? Do you think that he’s not going to get pissed off when you jab a finger in his eye or twist his nuts?

    Based on these comments, the advice seems to be just to let yourself be raped.

    1. Based on these comments, the advice seems to be just to let yourself be raped.

      If I was a woman facing a rapist my immediate goals would be

      a) Try to avoid getting raped, and
      b) If that proved impossible, try to avoid getting murdered.

      It’s not immediately clear to me whether or not this device would further those goals or not, but I think it at least warrants discussion.

      Obviously the choice of whether to use it should ultimately be made by the women involved, and I doubt very much that any of them would look to me for “advice” on the subject anyway.

      1. Living in a situation where you have a minor chance of being raped once and some possibility of legal redress is different than being someplace where you have a nearly 100% chance of being raped repeatedly and zero possibility of redress. In the first case, you might choose to keep your head down and leave your survival to the discretion of a rapist. In the second case, you’re on United Airlines Flight 93.

        1. Hey, I agreed that it should be up to the women involved whether or not to use this thing.

          Are you saying that it’s wrong to suggest there may be any potential downsides to using this device?

          1. No, just that risk management in Mordor is different than risk management in The Shire. Greater danger generally requires greater risk in order to survive.

  30. if i were in a situation where i knew that there was a very high chance of being raped anyway, i’d GLEEFULLY wear one of these. news flash: rape is a violent crime, not a sexual crime. the chance of being physically harmed — outside of the violation of unwanted penetration itself — is already very high.

    no, it doesn’t solve the problem of rape, but in such dire scenarios as those that exist where this is marketed, it at least empowers women with a dangerous edge, and vengeance.

  31. For all the reasons listed above (and ever so many more!) the whole concept of this device is terribly misguided.

    I feel sorry for this “Doctor” having spent her time and resources on this contraption. Well intended or not, could no one with sense dissuade her?

    Argh! The crazy human animals are at it again!

  32. regarding disease risks, i’d rather catch hiv from a rapist’s bleeding and mutilated penis than from his orgasm.

  33. “Enslavement”? What in the world is that statement all about? And the idea that rape could be made worse by this type of defense is crazy! The product is made for a target group of women who are at risk and who recognize, and prepare for, that risk. Gee, do bloggers perform research so in-depth that they can judge the usefulness of products? And you are also free to develop your “real solution” to this particular crime.

  34. Hey at least it’s something. There has to at the very least be some validity to the controversial nature of the thing bringing the subject more to light.

    Personally, I’d favor a small (or medium) ball-peen hammer contraption that works as testicle-smashing pendulum. No question about the rapist just getting angrier then as he’d just be a weeping puddle on the floor.

    Dibs on the band name The Smashing Testicles.

    Also, please market these devises to the American prison system.

  35. So, the first reference to a device like this that I can think of in fiction, is in the Joe Haldeman THIEVES WORLD story (in the very first anthology, 1979).

  36. Boing Boing: the one place on the Internet where I willingly choose to read comments. In all seriousness, apart from a bit of naiveté by some, I’m pleasantly surprised.

    Re: the Rape-aXe- rapist motherfuckers deserve this and more. Problematic for a whole host of reasons, maybe a bit vengeful and barbaric in approach, but this isn’t a perfect world. Can’t say I’d choose to wear one, were I a woman, but I have no sympathy at all for the 99% of deserving would be rapists who get their dong mangled by this thing.

  37. I’ve seen coverage from news in South Africa and neighboring states about this issue. Gang rapes are VERY prevalent- one of the women interviewed said she had ONLY been gang raped twice. ONLY? I don’t see how a single use device is going to *help* in an environment like that.

    I don’t know if the RapeAxe would stop or even act as a passive deterrent to rape in South Africa. It has been out for a while, and I’m not reading any stories about men fearing them.

    I think that the best deterrent for rape as a social phenomena is solidarity. A rapist rapes a women, all the women get together and beat him senseless as a lesson. Sampat Devi has the right idea on that note.

    On a personal level, I think teaching young South African girls marksmanship skills would be $2 better spent at per person.

  38. Forgive me, but as a sexual assault victim, I find this really cool. Not that I believe in genital mutilation, especially not as punishment, (even for a sexual crime), but the thought that a woman might gain some form of real protection against rape, and that perpetrators would be severely discouraged from raping again, is a huge relief.
    While I am worried about rape victims’ safety after the fact, I think what isn’t being considered in the discussion is the environment this protective device was designed FOR. We’re talking about one of the countries with the highest rates of rape in the WORLD. Clearly, women need a radical solution to a radical problem. Women are facing rape in their homes, from family members, even friends; rape isn’t always the jumped-on-the-street kind.
    Actually, rape among those the victim knows well accounts for 80% of rape cases, at least in the United States… What do you do, when you’re not even safe in your own home?

  39. Hmmm…I’m an American, but I have an uncle working a Croft in Scotland and he raises sheep.

    I wonder if this device would help him out? He only has female sheep (the sheep are fenced) so there’s no risk of any stray male sheep being damaged.

    This might really relieve my Uncle Angus [yes – that’s his name ;) ] of being woken up at night by the noise and the occasional vet bill, although fortunately it rarely leads to vet bills. It’s more of a nuisance. Of course, I wonder about liability.

  40. @eviladrian is on the right track here…. A woman doesn’t actually have to be ‘wearing’ one of these devices for her to benefit from its protection.
    In South Africa, men get away with rape, and authorities are able to disregard reports of sexual assault for lack of evidence.
    As soon as ONE rapist is admitted to hospital to have one of these things removed from his penis, two things will happen: First, the authorities will have pretty conclusive evidence that he stuck his penis where it wasn’t wanted. And second, all the OTHER rapists out there are going to be, to some degree, deterred from sticking their penises in unwilling women.
    Yes, there’s the danger of “just” a rape escalating to a severe beating or murder. But the tide of violence against women must be turned back, and in that particular fight, there will have to be casualties on both sides.
    It would be much better for women worried about being attacked to carry handguns. But if the political climate is unfavorable to armed self defense, then I say the Rape-aXe is a good idea.

  41. I realize “Snip” stands for “following snippet from an article,” but I have to admit I crossed my legs a little reading “…and basically clamp down, making exit from the device painful. The thing does leave damage. Snip:”

  42. This is an even older idea than you think. A quick search on google patents reveals a plethora of intrauterine anti-rape devices going back at least to the 1970s. Just a few:

    4030490 Female protective device, filed in 1975

    4016875 Penis locking and lacerating vaginal insert, filed in 1976

    4148310 Device for protection against sexual assault, filed in 1977

    4167183 Anti-rape device, filed in 1977

    4237876 Anti-rape device, filed in 1979

    5353811 Trap, filed in 1992

    5769090 Female security device, filed in 1997

    The main difference between the earlier and later ones seems to be that the later ones are more likely to try to get creative with things like micro-controllers. They seem no more likely to catch on today than they were in the late ’70s. Wearing one is a way of telling yourself, every day, that today you could get raped, that you can’t prevent it, but that maybe you can hurt them back if they’re not paying attention. Even if it’s true it’s no way to live.

    1. You know, of all vaginal inserts, I’ll go on record as saying that the “Penis locking and lacerating vaginal insert” is probably my least favorite.

  43. while i wholeheartedly agree to the idea, my wory lies in that rape is more about domination and fear than sex.. so once being hurt by this thing, wouldn’t he just beat her senseless? Or know that she has it on and simply take it off? I suppose that the device could leave marks useful for evidence – but if she could turn the the authorities, wouldn’t she have done so sooner?
    it’s not like he’d get his penis all cut up and go “Well gosh darn, you got me this time!” and walk away. The idea is excellent, but doesn’t actually alleviate the problem at hand (even if you look at it from the countermeasures point of view).

  44. This is the worst idea I have ever heard in my life. So a guy decides to rape a women. How does he go about this? Couldn’t say first hand, but everybody agrees that it starts with the man physically dominating the women. Once this is achieved and penetration occurs, this already violent man is going to have his manhood damaged. Rape is bad, we all agree, but wouldn’t it be better to live through it? Wouldn’t it? Hell, I don’t know, but if this hits the market, I’m afraid some women won’t get the chance to find out.

  45. A few clarifications from elsewhere on the web:

    1) The device doesn’t break the skin of the penis, and prevents women from “fluid exposure.”

    2) Only surgery can remove the Rape-aXe from a penis once it’s attached, which will alert doctors (and the authorities) that the patient’s a likely rapist.

    3) It hurts, he cannot pee and walk when it’s on. If he tries to remove it, it will clasp even tighter.

    4) South African women were inserting sponge-wrapped blades into their vaginas to thwart rapes way before the Rape-aXe came along.

    Clearly this is a complicated issue and this device does not solve the problem. Possible escalation of violence towards the victim, gang rape, anal rape etc. are all serious concerns.

    (and how does it lacerate without breaking any skin?)

    … sure beats sponges with blades though.

    I really really hope that sponge part is some sort of urban legend.

  46. Yeah, I’d have to agree – once the perp gets over the shock of ‘OMG WTF IS THAT ON MY ****’, their confusion and pain is gonna transform into violent rage.

    The potential benefits of this are that knowledge that such a devide exists may act as a deterrant.

    Personally, I think if you live somewhere where you seriously need to consider wearing this then I would recommend a gun. (you won’t often hear me singing the praises of firearms, but a bullet in a rapist’s head is an object of beauty to me – I’d put it there myself if the opportunity arose.)

  47. This could potentially stop a single rapist for a month.

    A handgun could potentially stop 1-15 rapists permanently.
    Deterrence is a nice idea, but you’re insufficiently devoted to rape prevention if you’re not depopulating rapists.

  48. Now I’m no rapist, but I think first-aid would be the next course of action to take, not retaliation. Mind you, rapists probably aren’t too bright.

  49. So, there’s a heck of a lot of speculation about what could/should/might happen when this device gets used. The wiki page says mass production was supposed to begin in 2007, so shouldn’t there be some stats, or at least some anecdotes by now?

    Is it not kind of odd that three years later we’re arguing about the unknowable future consequence of the device?

  50. I was talking to someone recently who claimed that a high percentage (I forget what she claimed) of rapes against females were actually not vaginal.

    I hadn’t heard that. Is there truth to that?

    1. That depends on the law – it wasn’t that long ago in the UK that rape was only with the penis, in the vagina. Everything else was ‘sexual assault’.

  51. I really don’t see how people can call this a deterrent. It is only a deterrent if a rapist knows they exist. Once they know it exist, it is trivial to remove. You just reach down and pluck it out. The only use this has is against people that don’t know it exists. The very popularity and success of this device would render it useless.

    Should you use one or not in a high rape area? Seems like a risk. It might help you escape, but it might escalate the violence. Yes, rape is a violent act, but there are degrees of violence. The discovery of this or if used effectively in a gang rape could turn a rape into a sever beating or murder.

    It is a pretty horrible situation where you have to consider if it is worth fighting back against something so horrible is worth the unjust consequences, but that is the sad reality. The real solution that will make a dent in this problem has to come from South Africa’s completely fucked up and dysfunctional society and culture.

  52. I think in general its a horrible idea although well intentioned.
    The only way I see it working without the women being beaten horribly is that the girl threaten a man by saying that she’s wearing it… which he could just force her to take it off, or so many women wear it that men think twice about rapping them… or once again the latter occurs.

    I think it would be far more beneficial for women just to have non-threatening female condoms on and reduce their likelihood of contracting an STI/STD,
    and educating BOTH men and women about sex and the importance of birth control and other preventative checks.

  53. I think it would be far more beneficial for women just to have non-threatening female condoms on and reduce their likelihood of contracting an STI/STD,
    and educating BOTH men and women about sex and the importance of birth control and other preventative checks.

    Your solution to gang rape is sex education?

    1. Snip…Your solution to gang rape is sex education?…Snip

      First – sorry for my English. It is only my first language.

      Initially, I had the same reaction, but it was premature. I think I feel the thrust of her comment. I’m sure everyone has heard the term ‘rape culture.’

      I don’t think the original commenter meant sex education to be a magic bullet. I think she meant sex education, over the long-term, even over generations, will help reduce the contributing cultural attitudes.

      Rape, gang rape in particular, is an extension of a cultural attitude that devalues the worth of women (or any other group targeted for rape.) Better sex education, including the concept of valuing and humanizing the other gender (or group)over many years or generations might change the cultural notion that women (or other target) exist as objects to be used, dominated and whatever other reasons rapists use to justify their actions.

      Just look at how popular the fantasy, if not the actual act of ‘gang-bang’ is. It is a very popular theme in American pornography. Although the women are supposedly consenting, it is still usually (but not always) portrayed as an act of, if not outright degradation, of domination, often with a theme of putting the haughty (rich, smart, etc.) bitch in her place.

      A society can have all sorts of deterrents, whether legal, vigilante or the risk of having one’s head blown off. Deterrents in the form of sanction, punishment or other disciplines have value, but are effective only to a point.

      Recall that despite the death penalty for drug smuggling in many Asian countries, it is still not hard to obtain drugs. Erecting draconian laws is a flaccid solution if not accompanied by education or propaganda aimed at preventing the behavior.

      Just my two bitty.

  54. This does indeed require the Snow Crash fast acting sedative on the tines. Otherwise it may cause increased violence of the dick-trapped rapists.

    That said, it still doesn’t prevent rape, except secondarily in that would-be rapists may be deterred if Rape-aXe becomes widely used in a given society.

    That said, it’s not as effective as it should be. Guns are messy as a defense– you have to hit with a single bullet, and especially if you’re not well-trained, that can be extremely difficult.

    A better solution: Mini flare-gun-esque weapon that fires shotgun shells packed with rock salt.
    1) It’s damn easy to hit something up to 20 meters with a shotgun.
    2) Rock salt is nearly always nonlethal, so victims would be less hesitant to use it.
    3) Even if the Would-be rapist is not incapacitated, it is very difficult to catch someone after being blasted in the face, chest, or legs with high velocity rock salt.
    4) This device should be pretty inexpensive to manufacture, and much more reliable than both wind-sensitive mace and ineffective tasers.

    1. #78,

      But the problem with all guns is that the attacker will have had more experience with them and they likely have the advantage of surprise. A lot of those guns will be used against the victim and make the situation worse.

  55. I don’t know if I should be giddy about the invention itself or absolutely disgusted with humanity due to the fact that someone had to invent a device that is intentionally inserted in an orifice because the risk of it being violated is just that great.

    South Africa seems to be the place to be if you are an inventor that specializes in preventative (Aka. Predictive) measures towards criminals. The “Car Scythe” that lobs off the legs off carjackers comes to mind.

    Everyday we are one step closer to the Thunderdome, I swear.

  56. hmmm… perhaps useful in ascertaining guilt in the rapist. there would be tell-tale scars on his dick right?
    perhaps not useful in scenarios where rape follows a violent attack, but could be vital in revealing sexual abuse in the family? or persons of authority (police, teachers) who pressure females into ‘consensual’ sex?

  57. what’s the likely bloodloss if an erect penis is cut by this thing? I think I have heard that if a man is stabbed/cut in the groin area he cannot fight on for much longer anyhow.

  58. silly me, didn’t read the product webpage before posting. yes, the thing must be *surgically removed*. this will make apportioning blame easy-peasy.
    a pretty good tool against sexual abuse carried out by a known attacker (i.e. family member).
    a lot of such abuse is not carried out with strong violence but different forms of pressure. I don’t think the chance of the attacker beating up his own daughter for instance is that great, seeing as the resulting bruises etc will only further incriminate him.

  59. There are many issues behind this thing and rape in general. My first instinct was “cool!” but then I thought it through a bit.

    1. If attackers know it’s out there, they’ll avoid the vagina and rape anally or orally. Or they’ll check with a finger first.

    2. If the attacker didn’t know it was there, the woman stands a greater chance of being beaten.

    3. This doesn’t prevent rape, it just gives women a way to fight back if they’re being raped. They’re still left with the emotional damage, which is often worse than the physical damage.

    4. If the woman is most likely to be raped by a close relative, this will work as they are less likely to beat their victims.

    Honestly, I think women carrying firearms and having the right to shoot and kill their attackers is a better solution than having teeth in their vaginas.

    1. Guns, the eternal flawed fantasy of the gun crazed. Woman carrying firearms won’t change anything. The attacker will just make sure they are armed too. Relatives or people they know will just catch them when they are most vulnerable. The attacker could get the weapon and use it against them. Areas in Africa that are awash with guns have the highest rape rates. You really need to stop watching so many action films. Seriously.

  60. Unless under the influence of powerful drugs, no man with his penis stuck in a toothy clamp will be thinking of anything besides getting it off.

    Of course his victim could be unconscious, bound and restrained, beaten within an inch of her life or otherwise unable to get away before he returns and exacts vengeance.

    Viet Cong sympathetic women and prostitutes would, during the American campaigns, carry razors within plastic cups within themselves. Many of these women were murdered by American GIs. Some horrifically. Sure, it made people think twice before initiating intercourse, but it definitely didn’t stop it.

    What really concerns me is not any of those issues, however. The issue that concerns me is the very real possibility of these being used by angry women in relationships. All Lorena Bobbit had was a knife. Imagine if one of these was also full of, say, superglue.

  61. Okay, gang, stop the presses! My friend, Jada, has worked out the bugs (and I quote): “I think it is a great device but they need to perfect it. It should release poison that causes instant death.” There you have it! :-D

  62. While I have no objection to a woman using this if she wishes I don’t see how this can do anything but make the situation worse. The comments about leaving the rapist in pain and getting away are unlikely. Sensitivity in descending order are testes, bulb or head of the penis, and the shaft. This device impales the shaft with multiple barbs on withdraw. One barb would be better. Multiple punctures actually diminish pain, passing sensation from puncture to puncture. It’s hard to register pain in two points at once, try it sometimes. Then there’s shock or numbing of the region injured. Initially the rapist is going to insert and most likely feel something is wrong. If he doesn’t freeze and say something like “B**ch, what the hell you got in you” he’s going to partially withdraw and thrust a second time. Then he will freeze. It doesn’t take the brain that long to register that this hurts when I do that. Now, what’s the first thing you do when something bites you and doesn’t let go? Well, having been bitten twice by dogs, the first thing I did was hit the animal, repeatedly. I didn’t think, I just struck, trying to kill it and get it to let go of me. And that’s only the beginning.

  63. Why could it not be a condom with some kind of gel that lubricates (to reduce the pain and tearing of vaginal walls) but the gel itself is a a slow-turning dye or or something that slowly goes blue over several hours and also causes the rapist to begin experiencing a slow building, excruciating pain over the next few days? Enough to say force a trip to he hospital where said dye is seen and BAM rapist is arrested.

    This would work in gang rape situations as well. How do we deter rape, and identify rapists while avoiding rape-related murder?

    1. A femidom filled with dye could work.
      I remember femidoms being cited as lifesavers in areas where men reject condoms, because the woman can just put it in earlier and present it as a fait accompli, and thus less likely to be rejected out of hand. Just using a femidom would severely reduce the health risks of pregnancy and disease, and the man isn’t going to notice dye in the femidom until he’s finished, if even then.

  64. “The worst case is that the attacker discovers it before insertion and simply removes it and becomes more violent.”

    Or wears it inside out. Ack!

    Though I can see how wearing this could be very dangerous, it’s hard for me to condemn wearers of this, erm, ‘device.’ It’s sad but for some women getting raped means death, so wearing a prick-pricker doesn’t carry any extra risk.

  65. My understanding is that many women in South Africa employ home-made versions of these kinds of things with things like razor blades in tampons.

    If that’s already where you’re at I don’t see how this will make it any *worse* for you.

  66. And now I have to go because all these graphic descriptions of what people will do to women are seriously verging on triggering me… and I can’t let that happen right now.


  67. I don’t think anyone’s mentioned this thing’s effect on recidivism.

    I suspect I’d have trouble approaching even the friendliest orifice after an encounter with the Rape-aXe. Were I inclined toward what Whoopi Goldberg called “rape-rape,” I might still be inclined toward violence… just not with my poor scarred penis.

    And if I were your garden-variety date-rapist (who might swear up and down that he’s not a violent guy), I might never get hard again.

  68. As a man with a wife and daughter I thinkj it’s a great idea. As a man who was battered for 7 years and falsely accused, I see WAY too much opportunity for a malicious ex girlfriend or ex-wife to use this as a weapon against a man. And as we all know such an attack will not be recorded as Domestic Violence.

  69. Hi. I think there might be violence when a rapist start the pain but anyway victims will confront this violence.They might even get the sexual diseases or Aids and you know what these kind of diseases will do to people. You or women have to ask themselves…..
    Is it worth to make the rapist pay for what they did to them?
    Is it worth to get the diseases and die painfully and let them do it to another innocent girl or woman?
    Is it feel good to see the rapist has been punished?
    Is this an excellent way to find the rapist?
    Do you want to see the punishment or cry for rest of your life for being a victim of a rapist?

    Thanks Dr. Ehlers for your anti-rape.
    Thanks again

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