Certainly one of the most controversial devices to cross my desk in awhile, the Rapex Anti-Rape device is an item guaranteed to enliven any conversation for the sheer conflict it inspires in both men and women alike.
Developed and created by Sonette Ehlers, RapeX is a feminine protective device, inserted internally, which resembles a female condom with a difference: The internal housing of the apparatus is lined with hundreds of razor-sharp, microscopic hooks which are designed to deeply embed themselves into any fleshy inserted object unfortunate enough to penetrate it without its wearers consent.
Let the gentle reader do the math as regards particular specifics.
Once embedded, RapeX can then only be surgically removed. It is alleged not to cause any permanent damage so long as medical attention is received immediately.
In short, a woman who feels at risk for rape simply inserts the condom for her protection. If she is then attacked, the apparatus will instantly and violently penetrate the attacker, further embedding itself on him upon attempt of removal. It is surmised that the initial searing blast of pain along with the element of surprise will be enough to distract the attacker, thus giving the woman ample opportunity to escape.
South Africa, where inventor Sonette Ehlers hails from, 50,000 rapes are reported each year. It is a country ravaged by AIDS, much of which is fueled by an epidemic of rape. In a 2006 study of 1,370 South African men, nearly 20% admitted that they had raped a woman in their lifetime. One wonders at the numbers of all those who were not led to admit it. UN reports also estimate the per capita rate at 119 per 100,000 people - one of the highest rates in the world.
"Nothing has ever been done to help a woman so that she does not get raped and I thought it was high time," Ehlers reported in 2005 upon the unveiling of her prototype.
Criticisms are rampant and include anti-rape activists who believe that the device could increase mortality rates or lead to further violence.
Other critics charge that the device is 'medieval' and 'barbaric'. However to the thousands of survivors of rape each year, this may be more an argument to further justify a punishment which actually serves, at least in some small way, to fit the crime.