The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly Truth About Anti-Rape Devices
We must truly live in terrible times if after a person has been brutally raped, we’re ready to hold accountable everyone else but the rapist.
But to be honest, it’s nothing new.
Historically, sexual assault has always been viewed as a result of men’s inability to keep it in their pants.
To avoid being raped, women were told over and over that they should avoid enticing men – basically cover up and stay invisible. At some point, they even sardonically entertained the idea of locking up their lady parts with metal contraptions like chastity belts.
Thankfully, present-day anti-rape technologies at least acknowledge a woman’s right to be in public spaces in the company of men, and even to drink.
In fact, there’s a whole dedicated consumer market for so-called rape prevention products.
1. Rape aXe
The idea for this deadly female condom lined with jagged spikes came to South African doctor Sonnet Ehlers when she treated a rape victim who said she wished she’d “had teeth down there.”
An uninvited penis can get inside just fine, but when pulled outward, the “teeth” clamp on and rip into it, resulting in excruciating, debilitating pain.
The attacker won’t be able to pee with it on, and since Rape-aXe can only be removed from a penis surgically, it will alert doctors (and the authorities) that the patient’s a likely rapist.
But while it (hopefully) allows the victim a chance to escape, Rape-aXe doesn’t actually prevent rape, and only works after penetration. It also doesn’t protect women against gang and non-vaginal rapes.
Its one advantage is it allows justice to be served almost immediately. As its creator, Dr Ehlers says, “A medieval deed deserves a medieval consequence”.
2. Undercover Colors Nail Polish
This wearable tech was put forth by a group of students from North Carolina State University in 2014.
It’s a nail polish that will change colour when it comes in contact with common date rape drugs including Rohypnol, Xanax, and GHB mixed into a woman’s drink.
By simply stirring her drink with her finger, a woman will be empowered to discreetly ensure her safety and take timely measures in case her nail polish changes colour.
3. Invi Bracelet
This one-time use, nonviolent form of self-defence allows the wearer to simultaneously repel an attacker and alert people around.
4. Athena Safety Wearable
This smart device emits a loud alarm at the touch of a button and works with your cell phone to instantly share your location with your loved ones.
5. Anti-Rape Buckle
Designed by a group of Swedish teenage girls, the belt features a military-style buckle that they believe will deter would-be rapists.
In order to unlock the belt, the latch on the buckle has to be moved through a labyrinth into the correct position – a task that requires two hands meaning that the wearer is in control instead of being controlled.
And if these aren’t enough – well, there’s always pepper spray, right?
The downside of these anti-rape devices is that they show a shocking lack of understanding of sexual violence, and place an added responsibility on shoulders of the vulnerable.
After all, if women are already being blamed for how they dress, it won’t be long before they’re blamed for failing to wear one of these devices.
There’s also the risk of escalating violence.
And while it’s true that women – myself included – do want to feel safer when alone, anti-rape devices are at best, a weak attempt at rectifying a pervasive problem.
Statistics show that 90 percent of people already know their attacker prior to the offence, and these attacks are most likely to occur in “safe” places.
So is it really fair to expect women to arm their vaginas 24×7 in anticipation of being assaulted?
In the battle against sexual harassment and rape culture, prevention efforts should focus instead on all of the things before the vile act is committed.
It’s foolhardy to think that we can design our way out of that.
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