Delhi gang rape case: Time to usher in the Vagina Dentata in India?
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Last Updated: Friday, December 21, 2012, 16:45
  
Long back, before the so-called modern age set in and left us all helpless in wonder of its advances, many communities believed in a myth. That of the Vagina Dentata. The legend was spoken of with an uncanny fear, and helped in keeping sex with unknown women – and, the problem of rape – at bay. The folk tale of the vagina dentata says that the vagina contains teeth. And hence, unsolicited or forced intercourse with a woman can leave a man with an injured organ – or without it.

Folk tales and myths might not exactly have made much difference to the modern man. With science and increased knowledge of the woman body, the myth of the vagina dentata has been laid to rest long back. But maybe, given the times and horrid situations that we are the denizens of, that is the only solution for womenfolk today. Not the vagina dentata, but an alternative closer to the myth, maybe.

In the wake of the recent diabolical crime that left the citizens of the country agape with horr
or – the Delhi gang rape incident – many ‘solutions’ have been put forward by people across the entire social spectrum. While some have demanded capital punishment for the ones accused, others have put their fingers on life imprisonment, and yet others have zeroed in on chemical castration. Opinions are many, varied, and will perhaps never be unanimous. There will be differences, and there will be debates. What really needs to be answered is whether or not we, as women, will be able to live a life which is an iota more safe and peaceful than the ones we have been leading thus far. For while Delhi boils with pent-up anger, the rest of the country is loyally pouring in reports of gang rapes from their bowels. And gradually, people are getting close to the miserable, hopeless realization that perhaps a real ‘solution’ is far from being transformed into reality.

However, while the people in the higher echelons of power discuss and find out how to dole out ‘justice’ to the 23-year old medical student whose life was turned upside down because of no fault of her own, here’s another ‘solution’. This too, is a highly debatable one, and will perhaps dry up as a dream that has been left to die. Nevertheless, here it is.

Sonnet Ehlers, a South African doctor, had invented an anti-rape female condom – RapeX, later renamed ‘Rpe-aXe’, a few years back. Ehlers’ prototype draws its basic design from the myth of the vagina dentata; i.e., the latex sheath, which can be worn inside a woman’s vagina, is endowed with inward-facing barbs – teeth, in common language. Ehlers, while interacting with a rape victim, came across her motivation to create the Rape-aXe. The victim had said, “If only I had teeth down there,” thereby referring to the folklore of the vagina dentata. If a man were to force himself upon a woman who’s wearing the condom, the barbs within the sheath would close in upon the man’s organ – even after it is withdrawn – causing excruciating pain to the perpetrator and providing the victim with adequate time to escape.

While the device is rated as a ‘dangerous product’ by the EU, it might be of ample use in our country. Imagine the plight of the rapist who would have to fall into the device... let alone re-forcing himself on someone else, he’d probably not even think of going near a woman, with wrong intentions, in the worst of his nightmares.

In a country where rapes and gang rapes occur with the frequency of blinking an eye, is it too much to ask for to legalise the usage and ensure the availability of the Rape-aXe here? If we are talking about deterrents, instead of pursuing criminals and then engendering an entire complex legal process, is it too much to ask for prevention of the crime itself? Maybe people will find this atrocious and will speak of rights and ethics and cruelty towards men. But spare a thought for that 23-year old girl who is battling for her life in Delhi. Or maybe for the 6-year old child who was killed after being raped. Or maybe the 37-year old woman who is living a life of misery after the Park Street, Kolkata rape case. Or maybe the numerous women who have had to face the trauma called rape. Mere statistics aren’t of much help. The tragedy of one woman is what has torn the entire country of a billion apart. Legalisation and maybe, free distribution, of the Rape-aXe to women all across the country, will take us one step closer to preventing the heinous crime called rape.

Like Edwin Markham says in ‘The Man with the Hoe’,
“O masters, lords and rulers in all lands
How will the Future reckon with this (wo)Man?
...
When this dumb Terror shall rise to judge the world.
After the silence of the centuries?”

First Published: Friday, December 21, 2012, 16:45


(The views expressed by the author are personal)
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