African Doctor Invents Female Condom with ‘Teeth’ to Fight Sex Assault

by , 06/21/14

African Doctor Invents Female Condom with 'Teeth' to Fight Sex Assault , south africa, sonnet ehlers, rape, anti rape, anti assault, sexual assault, rape axe, rape-axe, humanitarian design, women's safety

According to Human Rights Watch, South Africa has one of the highest rape rates in the world, and many women in the country live in constant fear of being attacked. One South African doctor, Sonnet Ehlers, is saying enough is enough — she sold her house and car to finance and invent a female condom laced with sharp tooth-like hooks that clamp onto an attacker’s penis upon penetration. The design is controversial, with many saying that the device is a “medieval” solution, but Ehlers believes it’s a way to make rapists think twice about the crime they’re about to commit.

African Doctor Invents Female Condom with 'Teeth' to Fight Sex Assault , south africa, sonnet ehlers, rape, anti rape, anti assault, sexual assault, rape axe, rape-axe, humanitarian design, women's safety

Called Rape-aXe, the female condom is inserted by a woman much like a tampon. Of the effects of the condom on an attacker, Ehlers explained, “It hurts, he cannot pee and walk when it’s on. 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.” Further more, only a doctor can remove Rape-aXe once it’s lodged on, meaning that hopefully, police can be on standby to make an arrest when the injured assailant look for medical help.

Ehlers designed the spiked condom after seeing the devastation in the eyes of a rape victim that came to her for help 40 years ago. She consulted engineers, gynecologists and psychologists to confirm that the design was safe and now plans to distribute 30,000 of them for free during the World Cup, after which they’ll be available for about $2 each. “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 even visited prisons to speak to convicted rapists about whether such a device would have made them rethink their actions. “Some said it would have,” she said.

Some critics are saying that the device could lead to more violence by an attacker trapped by it, and that it is a medieval solution, a criticism to which Ehlers, a mother of two daughters responded, “Yes, my device may be a medieval, but it’s for a medieval deed that has been around for decades. I believe something’s got to be done … and this will make some men rethink before they assault a woman.”

We do have one question about the design though – how does a woman take the device out herself and how can she prevent an attacker from doing the same?

+ Rape-aXe


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  1. Angel Chiriboga May 16, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    I commend this effort. The rapist would most likely damage himself once he realizes its on, by attempting to remove it to continue his penetration. It is at this moment that the woman should think of bashing the rapists head in with a rock or hammer. Once the body is there, when the police arrives, and finds the condom on the body, case closed, headlines reads man’s name, conviction of rape, and death by victim. In a few years, this may stop rape. Conviction after the rape while still alive, should carry the penalty of castration and penis removal.

  2. JJs December 8, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    Not a good solution, do you really think a rapist would let a woman get away with this?- Im sure the consequences for the woman would be worse. A rapist with this would make a woman suffer more – once again women are called to be the last stop in a societal problem – better solutions should be found to discourage rape this is a waste of time.

  3. Aurora Morales November 13, 2014 at 5:03 pm

    It WAS invented years ago. In 1972 I was told by a Vietnamese delegate to the Paris Peace Talks that women inserted tubes lined with sharp bits of metal to increase the consequences to US soldiers who were raping them.

  4. janj158 November 11, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    Wish this would’ve been invented years ago. Bravo for this Doctor!

  5. Vincent Balbas November 10, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    Why are so many concerned with the negative affects to the rapist ? I think a bullet to the head or penil amputation would not be too severe

  6. Vincent Balbas November 10, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    oh gosh, wouldn\\\’t want to hurt the rapist

  7. batmanondrugz September 11, 2010 at 1:58 am

    Wouldn’t yelling I have aids be a much more effective way to stop a rapist in his tracks?

  8. bellah June 28, 2010 at 4:17 am

    HHHHM! greeeeeat man! this would be the greatest thing someone can ever do for women,coz thats our biggest fear from the animal/beasted minded beings….Bring em in plenty to all the other countries.This Isabel from kenya

  9. yosef shuman June 26, 2010 at 10:54 pm

    How about something more initially secretive, but with longer societal consequences?

    Ideally I envision something like they had in the novel “snowcrash” a tiny needle hidden in the vagina, which painlessly injects the male with a sleeping drug.

    Even better, (if not wildly impossible), would be an engineered virus which gives the rapist a harmless but noticeable skin disorder/discoloration for a few weeks, holding his violent acts up to public scrutiny.

  10. a guy June 25, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    Not going to work! Are you kidding me? The first time someone hears about this they will check, and maybe make a game out of it. And if they don\’t it is totally removable, especially if it does not break the skin. Do you think South Africans go to the doctor every time something happens to them? If men in the us don\’t want to go to the doctor when they have symptoms of ED and cancers, whats going to make a rapist in a less medically advanced area go to a doctor? And how many women are going to walk around with this thing in all the time? And how sanitary is it to wear and reuse? This sounds like the worst idea ever. I understand the symbolism but come on this is not solving any real problems and only opening up more.

  11. jlsunny June 23, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    While I think some of the points made about rape being a crime of violence and power are accurate, I still agree with both Tom May 123 and Darlene: the pain it would cause might be enough to incapcitate thereby giving the victim a chance to escape, and women should have every opportunity to do what they can to defend themselves. I do not believe this device would increase the likelihood of murder any more than fighting back in other, traditional ways would. And because of the possibility of dangerous repercussions are victims supposed to simply lie back and let someone have their way with them because they might otherwise incense the attacker to the point of murder? I applaud this doctor and her efforts.

  12. Courtney6 June 23, 2010 at 11:58 am


    While I don’t think that you were making excuses for rapists caught within the constructs of their societies, I’m surprised at your response. Whether you’re a mentally disturbed pervert or a horny frat boy, rape is rape and what’s more upsetting to me is that we live in a society where you feel as though some people have gotten the message that it’s ok to rape and somehow, by getting that message, we should be sympathetic to their cases.

  13. Darlene June 22, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    Besides, even in a group of males someone would have to go first…and there may be a dearth of volunteers. One down is still better than none.

  14. Darlene June 22, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    I think it is a practical way to defend oneself. Pepper spray can also enrage a gang, fighting back can, not fighting back can…

    Since when are we worried about that? Since when does a woman NOT have a right to do everything in her power to prevent a rape or, to hurt and damage the rapist? I would like to see a hidden capsule attached which would break open and scar the offending penis. Maybe with dye, like they use to prevent shoplifting. Help with later convictions.

  15. Scootah June 22, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    Rape is a sex crime and we misconstrue the motivation behind it as being sexual all too regularly. In reality, sex is a violent crime and the motivations behind it are power and control.

    This product just teaches rapists that maybe they should use something other then their own penis for the first insertion into a victim. Gang rape and objective rape both nullify this event for everything that isn’t the first inserted object. It will exacerbate the rage response for any subsequent members of the group and provoke an increased anger and violence level from sole predators.

    This device should be banned and it’s makers made liable for every death that it causes before it can be withdrawn from the market.

  16. tom_may_123 June 22, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    As a guy, I’m inclined to think the pain from the sudden insertion of teeth to a very sensitive area of the male anatomy that very few, if any guys, could maintain enough self control to do something violent. Looking at the design in the picture indicates to me that the device will not be removed easily; and may require surgery.

    I think this is a very clever device that could, with widespread use, dramatically reduce the number of rapes on any continent.

  17. fm123 June 22, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    Decades? That’s how long rape has been around for? Wow, we really do become more immoral over time.

  18. billw June 22, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    think, too, that it’s better than nothing. if a rapist wants to make sure that everything is safe beforehand to commit his deed, no safety measure will stop him anyway.

  19. ashe June 22, 2010 at 11:04 am

    we have a tendency in the US to ‘demonize’ rapists along with the act of rape…don’t get me wrong. Please. It’s an absolutely horrific and inexcusable act. But my point is that it is not always done by evil, snarling, drooling psychopaths. Done – all too often – by men and boys (and women) who have misconceptions (probably socially constructed), imbalances and compulsions, and an idea (also probably socially constructed) that they are entitled and can get away with it.

    What I’m trying to say, is that I think that a large portion of rapists WOULD be deterred by this feisty little contraption. I do, though, echo the article author’s question – why wouldn’t the rapist just check for it and remove it?

  20. Marko June 22, 2010 at 5:53 am

    so what is ‘green’ about this post? More non bio-degradable materials to harm the environment?

  21. rajeshprasad58 June 22, 2010 at 2:44 am

    hi dear this condom very nicky teeth type condom save girl on the place sefty choice it’s greatfull !

  22. trinigyal June 21, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    I understand the concerns raised by joanielspeak and xxxiii, however something drastic needs to be done. The statistics for rape throughout several territories in Africa are far pass alarming. The statistics for South Africa are horrific for sexual crimes against women and children.

    Maybe the Rape-aXe is not the ideal solution to the problem, however hopefully the publicity generated by its introduction would arouse enough public interest that other more creative solutions can be put forward to tackle this barbaric crime against women and children… including many young boys who face the real danger of rape on a daily basis!!!

    Hats off to this courageous doctor!!! I hope that this marks the beginning of the end of rape world wide.

  23. Spuggy June 21, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    Fair point, but it might also buy women time or cause enough of a distraction so they can get away. It’s better than nothing and I think that’s the point.

  24. xxxiii June 21, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    That was my first thought. Great idea if you don’t mind getting killed for making your point.

  25. joanielspeak June 21, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    I would just be afraid that the attacker would be so enraged by either being trapped by it or just thinking it might be in his way that he would become violent and kill the woman instead. Its not like rapists are rational human beings. Rape is a violent crime and frustrating or enraging a violent criminal is a good way to get yourself killed. Also, what is to stop the men from sodomizing the women instead?

    Not that I think women should just take it, but it just seems like a violent “solution” to an already violent crime.

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