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RapeX

Claim:   Photograph shows an anti-rape device known as RapeX, a female condom with teeth lining the inside.

PARTLY TRUE

Example:   [Collected via e-mail, August 2005]

Sonette Ehlers, of South Africa (the rape capital of the world), has invented an anti-rape device that goes by the name, Rapex. The device is basically a female condom with teeth lining the inside that work just like the protective spikes in a parking garage… You can go in, but whatever you do, don’t back out. The teeth are angled so they allow penetration, but bite like a shark as the penis is removed; supposedly causing so much pain that it will give the woman a chance to escape. Further, according to Ms. Ehlers, "the device will need to be surgically removed at a hospital, which will lead to the capture of the rapist."

 

Origins:   The device shown above is a prototype for an anti-rape female condom which was unveiled in 2005, as designed by Sonnet Ehlers, a former medical technician in South Africa. Originally branded RapeX, the device's identification was changed to Rape-aXe due to a conflict with the European Union's warning system of similar name.

Various news article have reported of the device's introduction that:
"Nothing has ever been done to help a woman so that she does not get raped and I thought it was high time," Sonette Ehlers, 57, said of the "rapex", a device worn like a tampon that has sparked controversy in a country used to daily reports of violent crime.

Ehlers said the "rapex" hooks onto the rapist's skin, allowing the victim time to escape and helping to identify perpetrators.

"He will obviously be too preoccupied at this stage," she told reporters. "I promise you he is going to be too sore. He will go straight to
hospital."

The device, made of latex and held firm by shafts of sharp barbs, can only be removed from the man through surgery which will alert hospital staff, and ultimately, the police, she 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."

It also reduces the chances of a woman falling pregnant or contracting AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases from the attacker by acting in the same way as a female condom.

"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," she said.

Ehlers, who showed off a prototype, said women had tried it for comfort and it had been tested on a plastic male model but not yet on a live man. Production was planned to start [in 2006].
We rate this item "partly true" because several years after the Rape-aXe anti-rape condom was promoted on the Internet and announced as about to go into production, we've found no evidence that it has ever been marketed to the public nor any indication about if or when it will be made available for purchase. (CNN reported in 2010 that Ehlers planned to distribute 30,000 of the devices in South Africa during the upcoming World Cup football matches and hoped to make them available for sale after a "trial period," but we have found no indication that the product has ever been released to vendors.)

Last updated:   17 May 2014

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Sources:

    Clayton, Jonathan.   "Anti-Rape Device Must Be Banned, Say Women."
    The [London] Times.   8 June 2005.

    Dixon, Robyn.   "Controversy in South Africa Over Device to Snare Rapists."
    Sydney Morning Herald.   8 June 2005.

    Karimi, Faith.   "South African Doctor Invents Female Condoms with 'Teeth' to Fight Rape."
    CNN.   21 June 2010.

    Shea, Christopher.   "The Anti-Rape Condom."
    The New York Times.   11 December 2005.

    BBC News.   "S Africa 'Rape Trap' Condemned."
    10 June 2005.

    Reuters.   "Anti-Rape Condom Unveiled."
    Sydney Morning Herald.   2 September 2005.