sights & sounds

April 15, 2010

The Rape Axe ‘solution’

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jay @ 8:18 pm
Tags: , , , ,

From GlobalPost.:

“Rape-aXe is a flexible polyurethane condom-like tube that fits into the woman’s body. Rows of jagged plastic hooks line the inside of the tube — bent backward like teeth in a shark’s mouth — and lodge in a perpetrator’s penis upon entry. The perpetrator can withdraw from the woman, but the Rape-aXe remains clamped on. Trying to pull it off will cause discomfort.

Though the device causes great distress, it does not draw blood, Ehlers says, which is crucial in areas where HIV/AIDS rates are high. A man must seek medical attention to have the Rape-aXe removed. Until then, he cannot urinate, essentially tagging him until he gets to a hospital, she explains. Ehlers says she consulted an engineer, gynecologist and psychologist on the design.”

Though the intentions are good, there are a number of enormous problems with this device.

  • With something like this, I’d worry that if it became well-known and commonly-used, plenty of rapists would anticipate the possibility that their victims are wearing the device, and just threaten women into removing them before any penetration occurred.
  • The device only works for women once they’ve already been penetrated, and any ‘self-defense’ tool is rather useless if it requires that you be attacked in order to work in the first place. The goal of proper self-defense is to prevent assaults from even occurring and/or to incapacitate an attacker; so if the attack is already occurring, what would be the point of a device that doesn’t even incapacitate or kill a rapist, but just might anger him enough to kill his victim?
  • In the U.S. and similar countries, stranger rape isn’t very common. I’m not sure if SA differs much; but if acquaintance rape is also the norm there, widespread use of the device wouldn’t put much of a dent in the numbers, as women would be unlikely to wear the device around ‘friends’ and family members they already trust.
  • The device only offers meager protection against a specific type of sexual assault – it does nothing to protect victims from anal or oral rape; it does nothing to protect victims who’re being attacked by multiple men; it does nothing to protect victims from being violated with foreign objects or fingers; and (most importantly, in my opinion) it does nothing to protect children.

Another snippet from the article:

“South Africa has the highest rate of rape in the world, including child and baby rape, with one person estimated to be raped every 26 seconds, according to aid groups and local organizations.”

The article doesn’t mention this, but part of the reason that child rape is so endemic are widespread rumors (especially in rural areas) that having sex with a virgin will magically cure you of HIV; so, some proper sex education would go a long way, as well, especially considering the fact that this proposed device does nothing to protect kids.

Obviously, it’s unfair to restrict the issue to a question of what women need to do to prevent rape while mysteriously absolving men of responsibility; and there isn’t a single solution that will completely halt these widespread assaults.
But in terms of individual steps we could take for women to more freely go about their lives, I’d prefer to see more women (and young people, if necessary) armed, instead. Given the political climate in SA, though, that might not be an option.

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