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Saturday, September 10, 2005

New South African Anti-Rape Device Likely To Cut Down Rapes and Limit Disease From Sexual Assualt Attempts


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New Inexpensive Anti-Rape Defense Device Hooks Rapists Where it Hurts the Most - Gives Victims Time To Escape - Marks Assailants Who Must Seek Hospital Help

For centuries women have been targets of rape. A violent and hate filled crime that often scars women for life, causing depression, feelings of guild, worthlessness, and blame and sometimes souring their relationships with the men in their lives.

The physical differences between men and women have often given men both a physical and psychological edge in dealing with women so that when surprised, even armed women could be surprised, disarmed and attacked.

Then again women have been exposed to date rape and its kin, including various kinds of methods designed to overwhelm a woman's ability to say no through unfair persistance, excessive drinking or recreational drug use, or from being dosed with a drug unwillingly to being rendered unconscious.

All of these different methods of rape, acts of violence hate crimes, have often gone unreported and undetected. Yet in some parts of the world, such as South Africa where HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases are rampant and victims are even poorer and less willing and able to report sex crimes for fear of reprisals, their defenses against rape have been even weaker than here in the United States.

This transported the act of rape from act of crime to death sentance, sometimes for both mother and current or resultant child that South African Inventor Sonnette Ehlers, was inspired to invent a new anti-rape device designed not only to, er, sharply reduce the incidence of rape, but to protect the victim from the impact of sexual diseases that could be transmitted as well.

Inserted like a tampon the latex device is held firm by shafts of sharp barbs, which immediately grab and divert the attention of an assailant once he has come into contact with the razor sharp hooks which instantly cause excruciating and disabling pain. Not unlike large fishing hooks, the barbs can only be removed under anaesthesia through surgery in a hospital. This is it hoped will eliminate the need for a police search and sharply increase the detection in the number of sexual assualts.

According to South African Police Statistics, more than 50,000 rapes are reported every year, but the actual total could be as much as four times higher or more because rapes by friends, acquaintences, and of children are rarely reported.

“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 her invention, she is calling the “rapex,” which has spurred controversy despite South Africa's dubious reputation as having one of the highest rape problems in the world. Undoubtedly some men are upset about the “rapex” which hooks onto the rapist’s skin, allowing the victim time to escape and helping to identify perpetrators. However, it does provide something not available previously in rape cases, almost undeniable evidence of an assault without relying on expensive and sophisticated tests such as DNA testing.

There certainly is something convincing about the specter of an assailant lying dormant in a local hospital with wounds marking clearly physical evidence of his attack.

Previously, "blame the victim" defense strategies in rape cases, where a plaintif's entire intimate life was paraded before the court and sometimes the local media, made large numbers of women too afraid to appear as witnesses in rape cases. Such testimony which gets at the character of the plaintiff is often vital when rape kit evidence is lacking or appears weak. The "rapex" may reduce the need for extensive character history based on the more profound evidence that it produces, particularly if it produces a specific pattern of wounds corresponding to the packaging in the possetion of the victim.

Ehlers responed to reporters attempts to fish for weaknesses in the plan “He (the assailant) will obviously be too pre-occupied at this stage,” she told reporters in Kleinmond, a small holiday village about 100km (60 miles) east of Cape Town. “I promise you he is going to be too sore. He will go straight to hospital.”

She reiterated that the device reduces the chances of a woman falling pregnant or contracting AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases from the attacker. South Africa has more people with HIV/AIDS than any other country, with one in nine, or a staggering 5 million of its 45 million population infected.

Ehlers, who showed off a prototype on Wednesday, 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 next year. But the “rapex” has raised fears amongst anti-rape activists that it could esca lure attackers into more violence against women.

“If a victim is wearing such a device it may enrage the attacker further and possibly result in more harm being caused,” said Sam Waterhouse, advocacy coordinator for Rape Crisis. Other critics say the condom is medieval and barbaric — an accusation Ehlers says should be directed rather at the act of rape. “This is not about vengeance ... but the deed, that is what I hate,” she said."

The Peter Files Responds

Whether you swing left or right politically, this radically new and potentially effective defense against rape deserves a serious look for adoption for use in the United States, but NOT as a medical device.

This need not be treated as a medical device, this is device designed purely as a last line of defense for women and should be embraced by liberals and conservatives alike. Anyone concerned about its potential as a birth control device can easily poke a hole in that argument for their own use, but the intent here is not birth control, but disease control. Clearly though, that portion of the use of this device is going to be a subject of a high degree of religious debate.

Certainly anyone who advocates the use of guns for self-defense should have no problems with this device, since it does not kill, and only performs its function under circumstances of most dire attack. There can be no question of miss-fire, cross-fire, accidental discharge, or use to murder a victim without extremely creative malice aforethough and most instances would probably result in the death of the woman before the man could be killed.

No, the only real objectors are either those who would like to preserve their ability to rape women and children, or those fearing some kind of medical hazard to those who use the device. The latter can be tested, but the design itself appears to be simple and like a Chinese Finger puzzle really can disable in only one fashion.

Are there potential liabilities for a victim?

Self-defense is a powerful defense in the American Legal system and there is likely to be ample international law precedent to review very soon to see the potential hazards.

As far as damages from civil litigation, in the court of Equity, one must act Equitably to receive Equity and a rapist is hardly likely to recover damages from a victim he was raping.

In torts, while he received a damage, it will have been in self defense, proportionate to the tort being attemptend. In short, it might reduce a counter-claim for damages somewhat, but that might be mitigated somewhat by the feeling of empowerment that comes from fighting back.

Well, it could be worse for crooks, it could have a little guillotine......


One wonders if a model could be designed to defend men vulnerable in say, prison showers. After all, being imprisioned should not expose one to the potential to HIV infection. Hmmn, perhaps Senator Santoro would be willing to introduce a bill to investigate approving the use of both devices in the U.S.
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