One woman had an idea--a toothed condom-like device a woman could wear inside her vagina that would painfully stop a man from completing an act of rape, tagging the attacker as a rapist, and preventing her against STD infection simultaneously (important in a country with a 12% HIV infection rate). It's basically a modern-day chastity belt, and as Jezebel points out, it's not without it's problems. For one, it puts the responsibility for preventing rape on women, who are the potential victims. It also could create the unintended consequence of making additional violence more likely. Moreover, it can't actually stop rape, since penetration has to occur for it to work, and anal and oral rape could still take place unfettered. For my money, I doubt the device will actually work much in practice, but a few highly publicized cases of a man getting his penis shredded attempting rape might deter some would-be attackers--until they resolved to check for a device and remove it before attempting penetration.
But Jezebel also rightly points out that the critics of Rape-aXe are coming at it from the perspective of living in a society where rape is a relatively rare occurrence, and thus no one would consider leaving home with a vaginal insert to protect themselves. This, tragically, just isn't the case in South Africa:
[Rape-aXe creator] Ehlers isn't suggesting that British or American women run out and purchase this product - it was introduced in South Africa to address the terrifying frequency of sexual assault. South Africa has one of the highest levels of rape in the world; a 2006 study found that a woman is raped every 17 seconds. To make matters even worse, a 2009 Amnesty International report found that out of over 20,000 reports of rape, only 8% led to convictions.This might not be the solution, but one is desperately needed. And at least this somewhat shocking device is getting the word out on an issue that deserves greater attention. So, what can South Africa do to protect rape victims? And, how can the World Cup, happening in South Africa this summer, be used as an opportunity to bring attention to this issue?