Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Taking a Bite Out of Rape

South African Sonette Ehlers is taking women's defense in a new direction - vaginally. The former medical technician has developed Rapex, a version of the female condom that is beefed up with teeth to stop would be rapists, or at least to slow them down enough for intended victims to get away. My first thought: won't the rapists be angrier, and find some other way to hurt these women? After all, it causes no lasting damage - seems like it'll be more likely to piss them off. And as Kira Cochran of the Guardian points out, "it places the onus for stopping rape not on the perpetrators, but on women - entirely the wrong way around. It implies that rape is an inevitable part of human culture and that women need to adapt accordingly." Some have even claimed that using the device is just an act of vengeance toward the rapists.

I'm sorry, say that again? Maybe it's just an old eye-for-an-eye judgment on my part, but I think rapists deserve much worse than a few pricks that aren't permanent (excuse the pun). The fact is rape is all too common in South Africa (and many other places, too) - perhaps it will anger the would-be rapists, but it seems better to have some chance of getting away than none at all. Is it just a bandaid slapped on a larger problem? Of course it is, but someone please explain to me how we ought to go about changing the way a rapist's brain works so we can stop him from hurting women. And then make sure to change all rapists' brains. I think it's more empowering for women to have some option of defense.

And I think the teeth should be bigger.


Gena said...

I was listening to the BBC on November 1st and there was a documentary piece on the amount of rapes and assaults against women and men:

or http://tinyurl.com/ysuqnd

Folks are catching major hell with little legal or social support. The violence spans race and class. Factor in the secondary transmittal of STDs and your have a deadly mess on your hands.

Anything that gives South African women any kind of protection or defense is most necessary.

Amy said...

One would hope that once word gets out that the local women are have a penis-puncturing defense, some would-be rapists might find something better to do with themselves. One would hope they'd have something better to do with themselves without threat of penile injury, but then I guess we don't live in the best of all possible worlds, do we?

Sarah said...

I've also read that, in an effort to produce ethnic cleansing, women are being raped with the purpose of giving them HIV. Obviously something must be done, so kudos to Ehlers for stepping up to the plate.

Lucy Maboya said...

wow!the"Rapex" seems like a well thought out invention, and i completely understand why it may have been deemed a defense mechanism by the inventor, as i am a South African myself, and am fully aware the rising rate of sexual violence against women in my country.However, i must admitt that condoning its use would seem as though we are wiilingly accepting this kind of violence, almost as though to suggest that we are completely inert to the possibility of being a victim jus as long as you have your your Rapex, u wont go wrong?I belive that rape is a serious offence and should therefore be dealt with using serious measures!things like the Rapex are good, but will unfortunately not be effective for change,as our mind-sets need to change and so does the escalating degree of women abuse in our country.it is completely unacceptable.