Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Anti-Rape Condom Debuts in South Africa

A South African doctor has invented an anti-rape female condom dubbed Rape-axe, which debuted at the World Cup this week in a country that boasts the highest HIV rate in the world, and where one-quarter of men are admitted rapists.

On the first read, this product seems amazing in the sense that rapists certainly deserve to have teeth-like hooks lodged in their penises, and that this evidence--only removable by a doctor--would hopefully lead to more rape convictions. But, as ever, the Shakesville community brings insight and realism into the discussion. Read what they're saying.

The sad fact is, no weaponized female condom is a panacea for stopping rape. For one thing, it's yet another way that the onus is placed on the victims of rape. We're all unfortunately familiar with the canards that women ask for rape, based on clothing choice or daring to have a drink or walk down the street. Women are supposed to constantly be on guard: carry pepper spray, take self-defense classes, don't go to frat parties and now perhaps wear a weaponized condom.

Realistically, there are many downsides to consider with this invention, as Melissa McEwan describes: violent retaliation, threats of death to remove the condom, increased risk for HIV transmission if the rapist is bleeding, and the rapist resorting to other forms of sexual assault among other issues.

All of that is secondary to the awful truth that, in order for Rape-axe to work properly as a weapon or a rape deterrent, at least a few women still must be raped.

It's amazing that a product like this has debuted, but let's not kid ourselves thinking that this solves the problem. To combat this issue, people need to stop raping other people. And make no mistake: most rapists are men. When 99 percent of female victims and 85 percent of male victims were raped by men, it sure seems like the responsibility for stopping rape should fall on the sex that's overwhelmingly more likely to rape.


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