Just when you think the world couldn’t get any stranger….along comes Rape-Axe.
Designed by a South African doctor, Sonnet Ehlers, Rape-Axe is an anti-rape device which tears the skin of a rapist’s penis. Rape-Axe is a latex sheath worn inside a woman’s vagina, like a female condom but with razor-sharp barbs which rip into an erect penis on penetration.
The device doesn’t stop there either. When the rapist withdraws, yowling in agony, the Rape-Axe stays clamped on his torn penis and requires to be surgically removed.
Whew. Where to start commenting on this device?
Firstly, Ehlers is (presumably) well-intentioned, wanting only to help prevent occurrences of rape. She’s a South African medical reseacher and saw at first hand the terrible distress, disease, unwanted pregnancies and injuries suffered by women in the “rape capital of the world”. In South Africa, a rape is reported as taking place every 17 seconds of every day. Despite the misery caused to women, only 8% of rapists are convicted. In a culture where rape has become normalised, and is mostly unpunished, it’s understandable that women look for methods of self-protection.
Rape-Axe, however, is indicative of a truly dismal society and shows that hope has been lost in South Africa of ever successfully socialising boys who routinely grow up to become rapists.
Already some women in South Africa have asked if they must wear it every day? Imagine always going out equipped to fight off a rapist. The question has also been raised of manufacturing Rape-Axes for little girls. The threat of rape in South African society is terrible. But, equally, what would it do to a girl to grow up using an anti-rape device routinely?
For those who use the device and are raped, there is also surely the risk of being beaten or killed by an infuriated attacker. And, of course, rapists will quickly learn to remove Rape-Axes. Or just to avoid vaginal rape.
There will also no doubt be court cases where rapists sue women, alleging consensual sex: “She was angry that I’d had another girlfriend. She wore that thing and didn’t tell me.” A raped woman could end up raped and convicted of assault.
And in rare cases it might even happen that a woman does punish a wayward husband or boyfriend by wearing Rape-Axe. (After Lorena Bobbit severed husband John’s penis any sexual revenge is possible.)
What about a girl who consents to sex but is so drunk she forgets she’s wearing the thing?
And although the manufacturers say Rape-Axe does not draw blood – the razorlike barbs stay embedded in the penis – how certain is that? Will there be cases of women using Rape-Axe who get raped and are then infected with HIV because the rapist bleeds?
Rape-Axe is one very desperate product, dreamt up to deal with a very desperate situation. Will it cause more problems than it solves? We’ll no doubt hear more as it becomes available to South African women.