I've seen and heard of similar ideas before -- often involving razor blades -- but Sonette Ehlers of South Africa is the first to bring to market a rape-deterring "rat trap".
The tampon-like device, invented by a woman, supposedly protects women from rapists by cutting into a man’s penis. ...
The device, which Sonette Ehlers, its inventor, has patented, is worn like a tampon but is hollow. In the event of a rape, she said that it would fold around the rapist’s penis and attach itself with microscopic hooks. It is impossible to remove the clamped device without medical intervention.
“We have to do something to protect ourselves. While this will not prevent rape, it will help identify attackers and secure convictions,” Ms Ehlers told the Johannesburg Star.
Interestingly, many feminist groups in South Africa are opposed to the new invention, even though, as Fink Tank 3000 points out, South Africa is the "rape capital" of the world. The article contributes these numbers:
The South African Law Commission recently estimated that 1.69 million women a year were raped in the country but that only 52,000 cases a year are reported. Other estimates put the rate even higher.
Ms Smith said: “More than 40 per cent of those raped are children and nationally more than 65 per cent are gang rapes. Whether this translates as a woman raped every 26 seconds or more is irrelevant. It is far too many and not enough is being done to tackle it. This is not a male-only problem, it is a societal problem.”
Says a leading anti-rape campaigner:
Charlene Smith, a leading anti-rape campaigner, said: “This is a medieval instrument, based on male-hating notions and fundamentally misunderstands the nature of rape and violence against women in this society. It is vengeful, horrible, and disgusting. The woman who invented this needs help.”
I'm certainly no male-hater, and I agree that the device is pretty awful. Miss Smith is right in thinking that South African women need help to fight rape, but she fails to recognize that if the government won't do anything then women need to be able to protect themselves. These rat traps aren't as good a deterrence against rape as women carrying guns -- especially since the rape has to actually happen before the trap is of any use at all -- but the fear of such a device may discourage some attackers.
However, there are some complications. First of all, once rapists learn about the devices won't they just check for them? Second, it seems that the pain could cause the rapist to become more violent, thereby putting the victim in more danger. Even if the trap is debilitating in the short term, what's to prevent the rapist from finding the victim again later and taking revenge? Hopefully he'd get locked up for a while, but South African laws don't appear to be too good at that.
Ultimately, I mostly agree with this radio host:
The activist’s views were echoed by Jenny Crwys- William, the host of a popular radio talk show, who described the device as a “profoundly disturbing” development that underlined how society was in danger of accepting rape as a reality of everyday life. “We need more police and more sensitive police responses to rape. When more rapists go behind bars, rape rates will go down,” she told listeners.
Best solution: arm all women. Second best: prosecute, convict, and imprison rapists. Third best: rat traps.
(HT: Bill Handle.)