RAPEX downplays bigger issue

A new female condom has been created with the intention to decrease incidences of rape. It is called RAPEX. The idea is for women to wear one when they are going to be in unfamiliar areas or situations. By putting one in beforehand she is “armed” with a defense that cannot be used against her. It was designed by a retired blood technician in South Africa, the nation which has the world’s highest rate of rape.

What makes these condoms unique are the plastic spikes on the inside that point toward the back of the vagina. For this reason it is inserted with an applicator. In an incident of rape the inserted penis is caught by the spikes when the assailant pulls backward. This is extremely painful and is designed to cause enough distraction to allow the woman to escape. The condom also allows for the capture of more rapists because it can only be removed surgically. When the rapist goes to the hospital in need of the removal procedure, police can be contacted.

Like all condoms, it is a one-time use. It does prevent the exchange of fluid so it protects from STIs and HIV/AIDs. However, they have not been released to the public. The condoms would cost about 60 cents each in South Africa. This sounds inexpensive but it is not necessarily feasible for women to afford every time she might need one.

When I first heard about this condom, I thought it was a good thing. It may be able to decrease the rape numbers, something South African women are in desperate need of. But there may also be some flaws. Some women are concerned that their assailant will hurt or even kill them. The condom will be painful to the man, and it is predicted that he will be too distracted by the pain and unable to move much.

I had two concerns of my own about the condom. First, it reinforces the idea that rape is a woman’s fault by insinuating that she should be in charge of not getting raped. It may not seem like it at first but the message “don’t get raped” is larger than “don’t rape.”

My second concern is, what will prevent a rapist from inserting a foreign object into a woman’s vagina first to check for and remove the condom? Rather than making the target changing society’s ideals, it could be just a temporary fix that doesn’t address the bigger problem. It could, however, be a stepping stone for women’s safety. The outcome is uncertain, but I hope for the best.


Dear Bailey

1 Comment on RAPEX downplays bigger issue

  1. I don’t agree with your first concern. I understand it well, but the same could be compared to a woman or any person carrying pepper spray. Would you say to them that they message they are sending is ‘don’t get attacked’ or ‘safety first’? In my opinion, it’s safety first. You protect yourself because you love yourself enough to be realistic about the world. I also understand that not enough is being done to combat the issue of rape from the other spectrum. However, profiling rapists is a behavioral issue and not as easy as inventing a barbed female condom. Just like when doctor’s can’t cure an illness, they treat the resulting symptoms until a cure is found. We are in the treating symptoms stage.

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