Female Condoms With Teeth Help Protect Women from Rape

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By Vittorio Hernandez | June 3, 2014 8:48 AM EST

Rapes continue to be committed against females and males as well. Headlines over the weekend include the sexual assault of two teenage Indians who were gang raped by seven men and hanged from a tree and rape of a Malaysian teen by 38 men.

To help fight sexual abuse, several devices had been made available in the market the past few years.

One such device is a female condom with teeth which would attach to the penis once penetration takes place and would need a doctor's assistance to remove it. The device was invented in 2010 by South African physician Dr Sonnet Ehlers when she was just a 20-year-old medical researcher who encountered a devastated rape victim who said the sexual violence could have been prevented if she had some teeth in her vagina.

Ehlers invented Rape-aXe which she distributed in different South African cities where the World Cup games were held that year.

She consulted engineers, gynecologists and psychologists to help in the design and make sure it is safe. A male trapped in such a condom cannot urinate and walk, and if he attempts to remove it on his own, the device would clasp even tighter, but it wouldn't break the skin nor expose body fluid.

Ehlers suggested that a woman who goes out on a blind date or to an area she is not comfortable with should wear the female condom with teeth, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Uganda said the device is also a form on enslavement. Victoria Kaija from the center explained, quoted by CNN, "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."

The female condom was one of 11 devices listed by Web site vamshare.com that featured anti-rape devices.

Other items on the list are an anti-mugging dress where women could hide in, a belt buckle that needs two hands to use, slowing down the assault attempt, anti-molestation jackets, dresses and lingerie that shock people, materials that can't be ripped, a necklace with a button that when pressed causes the owner's phone to ring or send a text message to a friend, hairy tights and consent panties.

However, a lot of the devices, marketed to females from third world nations, would appear useless and even trivialising the seriousness of rape, pointed out The Verge's Adi Robertson.

He said the burden on safety is placed on women which raises the spectre of potential victim-blaming. And in countries like India where rapes are quite common among the lower-income group, "not every women can afford a smartphone and where getting even 2G connectivity is a miracle at times," Robertson stressed.

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