Sunday, June 20, 2010
Female condoms with 'teeth' to fight rape
South African Dr. Sonnet Ehlers has developed a female condom with teeth to fight rape.
Ehlers is distributing the female condoms in the various South African cities where the World Cup soccer games are taking place.
The woman inserts the latex condom like a tampon. Jagged rows of teeth-like hooks line its inside and attach on a man's penis during penetration, Ehlers said.
Once it lodges, only a doctor can remove it -- a procedure Ehlers hopes will be done with authorities on standby to make an arrest.
Critics say 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, a fellow for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the east African country of Uganda. "The fears surrounding the victim, the act of wearing the condom in anticipation of being assaulted all represent enslavement that no woman should be subjected to."
Kajja said the device constantly reminds women of their vulnerability.
However, its one advantage is it allows justice to be served, she said.
Various rights organizations that work in South Africa declined to comment, including Human Rights Watch and Care International.
South Africa has one of the highest rape rates in the world, Human Rights Watch says on its website. A 2009 report by the nation's Medical Research Council found that 28 percent of men surveyed had raped a woman or girl, with one in 20 saying they had raped in the past year, according to Human Rights Watch.
In most African countries, rape convictions are not common. Affected women don't get immediate access to medical care, and DNA tests to provide evidence are unaffordable.
Women take drastic measures to prevent rape in South Africa, Ehlers said, with some wearing extra tight biker shorts and others inserting razor blades in their private parts.
Critics have accused her of developing a medieval device to fight rape.
"Yes, my device may be a medieval, but it's for a medieval deed that has been around for decades," she said. "I believe something's got to be done ... and this will make some men rethink before they assault a woman."