New York: A doctor in South Africa has designed what she claims is a new female "condom with teeth" aimed at preventing rape.
Dr Sonnet Ehlers has created the female condom, called Rape-aXe, some 40 years after she met a devastated rape victim who was like "a breathing corpse".
"She looked at me and said, `If only I had teeth down there`," Ehlers, who was a 20-year-old medical researcher at the time, recalled in an interview with a TV news channel. "I promised her I`d do something to help people like her one day."
Now, 40 years on, Rape-Axe is born.
The condom has jagged teeth-like hooks that latch onto a man`s penis during penetration. Once it lodges, only a doctor can remove it -- a procedure Ehlers hopes will be done
with authorities on standby to make arrest.
"It hurts, he cannot pee and walk when it`s on. If he tries to remove it, it will clasp even tighter... however, it doesn`t break the skin, and there`s no danger of fluid exposure," the doctor said.
Dr Ehlers has been distributing 30,000 free condoms under supervision during the World Cup period. "I consulted engineers, gynecologists and psychologists to help in the
design and make sure it was safe," she said.
After the trial period, they`ll be available for about two US dollars a piece. "The ideal situation would be for a woman to wear this when she`s going out on some kind of blind
date or to an area she`s not comfortable with," Ehlers said.
Critics, however, say that the female condom is not a long-term solution and makes women vulnerable to more violence from men trapped by the device.
It`s also a form of "enslavement", said Victoria Kajja who is a fellow for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Uganda. "The fears surrounding the victim, act of wearing the condom in anticipation of being assaulted all represent enslavement that no woman should be subjected to."
South Africa has one of the highest rape rates in the world, according to Human Rights Watch.
Women take drastic measures to prevent rape in South Africa, Ehlers said, with some inserting razor blades in their private parts. "I believe something`s got to be done... and
this will make some men rethink before they assault a woman."