South African doctor invents female condoms with ‘teeth’ to fight rape

Posted: 2010/06/21 in General News
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According to CNN, South African Dr. Sonnet Ehlers was on call one night four decades ago when a devastated rape victim walked in. Her eyes were lifeless; she was like a breathing corpse. “She looked at me and said, ‘If only I had teeth down there,'” recalled Ehlers, who was a 20-year-old medical researcher at the time. “I promised her I’d do something to help people like her one day.”

Forty years later, Rape-aXe was born. 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. “It hurts, he cannot pee and walk when it’s on,” she said. “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.”

South Africa has one of the highest rape rates in the world, according to Human Rights Watch. 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.

Ehlers said she sold her house and car to launch the project, and she planned to distribute 30,000 free devices 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 $2 a piece.

Speaking of the World Cup…

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