Critics question effectiveness of female anti-rape device

By Letre Sweeting

Jan. 21, 2016

Pelumi Ajao does not like the idea of an anti-rape female condom with ‘teeth’ lining the inside.

The 20-year-old Nigerian living in P.E.I. said the device with the flesh shredding lining, is known as the Rape-aXe. But it does not stop the emotional trauma and the humiliating memories associated with the rape for a female.

Sonnet Ehlers, a South African blood technician, decided to create the Rape-aXe in 2000 after one of her rape patients said, “I wish I had teeth down there.”

Ajao said she does not think this product will help lower the crime rate in Africa.

“If this device can attach to anything aside from the foreskin of the rapist’s penis, rapists may find devices to take it off a lady like inserting nasty things into a lady to get it off.”

Rape is not always simply about the act of having sex, she said.

“It comes with some men wanting control and domination, so it could also increase the rate of murder included with rape.”

She would not use the Rape-aXe and would not recommend anyone else use it, said Ajao.

Ajao is not alone. There is controversy about whether the device works.

South African women have called the Rape-aXe a rat-trap and have called for it to be banned by the government, reported Times Online UK.

The Rape-aXe has not been marketed or made available for purchase.

Meanwhile, reported cases of rape continue to decrease in South Africa.

Between 2008 and 2015 recorded cases dropped by 7.4 per cent, from 46,647 to 43,195. Total sexual crimes as recorded by the police may include up to 59 separate crimes ranging from different forms of sex work to rape, said Africa Check. Africa Check is a non-profit organization working with the media and journalism schools to improve the accuracy of media coverage of Africa.

Philippa Forbes is a registered nurse and health care provider in the Bahamas. She agrees with Ajao. The Rape-aXe is a harsh and cruel punishment. Some women might abuse it and cause intentional harm, she said.

“Although some may view it as a deterrent for rapists and prevent rape victims from getting pregnant and contacting AIDS and STDS, women may use the Rape-aXe to be spiteful towards men who upset them, cheat on them or lie to them.

“Everyone is innocent until proven guilty and therefore not every woman who comes into hospital accusing of being rape were actually raped.”

She would not recommend its use because Tasers and pepper sprays may be more useful and not as cruel. Despite this, she would recommend children use it, said Forbes.

“Children are unable to fend for themselves once they become victims and anyone that has sex with a minor should feel the wrath of the Rape-aXe. However, children will have to be monitored and educated by a doctor or health care provider to ensure proper use.”

Gloria Sawyer is the vice-principal of The Leadership Academy in The Bahamas. She has studied and taught South African history. She disagrees with Ajao and Forbes.

“It doesn’t matter what century or period of time it comes from, if it prevents one woman from being successfully raped and the perpetrator caught, I am all for it.”

Danielle Bowleg is a critical care medicine doctor at Princess Margaret Hospital in The Bahamas. There are pros and cons to the Rape-aXe, she said.

“The Rape-aXe provides the benefit of being able to identify the perpetrator and making victims and/or females feel safe.

“No woman ever wants to be violated emotionally, physically or sexually and I feel as though this is a mode for the female population to have some form of protection.”

While there is a suspected need for the Rape-aXe, she is unsure whether it would serve any benefit because of its impracticality, said Bowleg.

“In the unique situation where the inventor Ehlers made it, these women were targeted all the time, for that I would have to be affirmative in my decision.

“For today’s woman, daily usage of the Rape-aXe would not be sufficient to sustain the pharmaceutical market’s supply and demand.

“Rape victims are preyed on from people that they know or that they have been in close contact with, or have seen before. So it’s very difficult to predict when such acts of violence are going to occur. Females would be forced to insert the devices daily.

“From a personal standpoint, if I was in danger or a target in a situation, yes I would use it.

“From a medical standpoint, if there was more research about it, and if there were actual clinical trials reporting the effectiveness, then yes I would recommend it to patients. But because it hasn’t even gone into mass production, yet from what I’ve read, it’s not really a feasible option.”