Not-So-Pretty Cup

Have you seen these? They’re being distributed to South African women for free during the World Cup. They’re  Rape-aXe — female, anti-rape condoms.

Rape is a big, big problem in South Africa. It has one of the highest rape rates in the world with over 28% of men surveyed saying they had raped a woman or a girl and one in twenty saying they had done so within the last year.

South African doctor, Sonnet Ehlers, has developed these “devices” which women can wear if they’re going out on a blind date or feeling otherwise vulnerable.

If a man rapes her, the teeth on the inside of this condom clasp onto his penis. It hurts. The guy cannot walk or pee and the thing can only be removed by a doctor. If the guy tries to remove it himself, it only grabs on tighter. The condoms are also impenetrable to prevent any bodily fluids from being tranfered.

Dr. Ehlers has spent 40 years of her life and has cashed in her house and car to get these things developed and distributed. She consulted with engineers, gynecologists and psychologists all through development to ensure safety and effectiveness.

However, critics like Victoria Kajja with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Uganda say it’s a form of enslavement:

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…. the device constantly reminds women of their vulnerability. It not only presents the victim with a false sense of security, but psychological trauma. It also does not help with the psychological problems that manifest after assaults.

All that might be true, but they do mete out some sort of justice in countries where rape has been normalized by frequency and lack of legal or medical resources for victims. Women are already walking around in extra tight bicycle shorts or with razor blades inserted in their vaginas to try and protect themselves.

If nothing else, having these things on the market might make guys think twice about sexually assaulting a woman. Then again, it might make them angry enough to come up with more sadistic means of punishing women. What do you think?

A story like this, amidst the glamour and glitz of putting on a smiling face for the world, is also a kind of grim reminder that there are a lot of other dimensions to South Africa than the World Cup.