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Rapex: The new chastity belt?

Posted Oct 01 2008 10:28pm
Rapex is an anti-rape device that is like a female condom made of latex but with shafts of sharp barbs. If a woman is wearing it and is vaginally penetrated, the barbs are sprung and they hook onto the penetrator’s skin. It can then only be removed by surgery. Such devices have been dreamed up before and even rendered artistically, but Rapex is a reality and is scheduled to go on sale in South Africa next year for a cost of one Rand (20 cents). The device was invented by Sonette Ehlers of South Africa who said she was inspired after meeting a traumatised rape victim who told her, "If only I had teeth down there." She claims that a majority of women surveyed in South Africa said they were willing to use the device but it is not without considerable controversy. There is concern that such a device would escalate violence against women because the entrapped would be enraged and therefore further harm or kill his victim. The response is that by causing the man so much pain, the woman could have the opportunity to flee. There is also a serious worry as to how effective this device would be as a rape deterrent after it was known to exist because women can be raped anally and orally. Further, s aid a hospital spokesperson at Johannesburg Milpark Hospital, “We would have no idea what it was (if a person sought removal) and a person could spin us a story. There would have to be in-service training. And obviously the patient also has rights.” Lisa Vetten, with the Centre for Violence and Reconciliation is concerned that “once again the responsibility for preventing rape is put on women.” Charlene Smith, one of South Africa's most prominent campaigners against rape charges that Rapex is ”… a medieval instrument, based on male-hating notions and fundamentally misunderstands the nature of rape and violence against women in this society." There are more rapes of women in South Africa than anywhere else in the world.
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