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The Rape-aXe was a prototype of a female condom designed to attach itself to an attacker's penis with barbs if an attacker attempts to penetrate the woman wearing the Rape-aXe.

The inventor claims

The barbed shafts can only safely be removed by a surgeon. The offender will cause serious and possibly permanent damage, should he try to remove Rape-aXe himself.

Because of this, they claim that the Rape-aXe aids in prosecuting the attacker, since the rapist will have to go to a hospital to get it removed, and the device tags him as a rapist.

Not being one to trust the marketing hype of a security product, I want to know: is this claim true? Is there special medical knowledge or tools involved in removing the Rape-aXe, or are we likely to see instructions for a build-your-own removal kit using commonly available tools and requiring minimal know-how to actually remove a Rape-aXe?

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Looks painful :/ Anyway, I'm sure you could use a screwdriver inside to disengage the hooks, carefully. It should be possible to bend them back. –  Chris Dennett May 17 '11 at 19:35
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Another quite likely thing to happen is that the aggravated rapist seeks immediate revenge on his victim. –  Lagerbaer May 17 '11 at 20:59
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@Lagerbaer: I was once at a rape prevention class. The instructor said there were three levels of violence: nonthreatening, threatening, and incapacitating. He strongly recommended not doing anything in the second category. This won't incapacitate the rapist, but will make him furious. Bad idea, for victims who want to live. –  David Thornley May 18 '11 at 3:31
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I can foresee lawsuits - usual arguments - the attacker says it was consensual, "then she attacked me m'lud and due to the injury and trauma I'll be asking for major damages! " –  Rory Alsop May 19 '11 at 23:41
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@Konrad I'm trying to picture the logistics of how a woman is going to get away from her attacker when he's now laying on top of her screaming and about to choke the @)(#* out of her for causing him pain. Then again, if she knows any self defense techniques, she could do more than just incapacitate him while he's er... distracted. –  Darwy May 22 '11 at 15:07

1 Answer 1

up vote 21 down vote accepted

The only evidence for the claim that the device must be removed by a medical professional comes from the device creator, on the website of the product.

It seems like an important point, since the idea is that in having to have such a device removed the authorities would be alerted and the rapist caught.

Testing how hard the device is to remove isn't something that has had a lot of time dedicated to it yet, perhaps in no small part due to a lack of volunteer test subjects.

As to whether or not the device needs to be removed by a medical professional?

Quoting from the Rape Axe FAQ:

Will there be a lot of blood?

No, the penis is encapsulated and the barbs penetrate skin deep only.

I also captured this frame from the animation showing how the device works:

enter image description here

The hooks don't penetrate very deeply into the skin, although will dig deeper if attempting to forcibly remove the device.

Given that the device is latex, the device could be cut into sections, which would allow sections to be removed, reducing overall pressure which would otherwise force other hooks in more deeply.

Assistance would still be needed to remove the device, although given that the device does not penetrate below skin level I would not think a surgeon is specifically required.

The claim about needing a surgeon and potential permanent damage seems like advertising and nothing more. It seems likely that the device could be removed without a surgeon or even by someone without a lot of medical training.

In the worst case scenario, the device can probably be forcibly removed without permanent damage. The website gives no reference to explain how permanent damage could come about and given how the device works it seems unlikely. Given a few weeks/months of healing or years of jailtime, removing the device forcibly is probably going to be a pretty common approach.

It should be noted that the device has attracted a lot of criticism:

  • That the device is based on male hatred and a misunderstanding of the nature of rape and violence in society[1]

  • That the device can lead to the rapist becoming aggravated, further endangering the victim[2]

  • That the device can be used to frame innocent men[3]

  • That it is a form of enslavement and gives a false sense of security[4]

Rape is a serious problem that still requires a lot of work to try and eliminate, and to support the victims. The consensus seem to be that devices in the vein of the Rape-Axe cause more problems than they solves.

As to the title question, can the device only be removed by a doctor? It's hard to say without a more thorough investigation, although I've found nothing that would indicate only a doctor or surgeon would be able to remove the device.

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I'm a little lost on "device is based on ....a misunderstanding of the nature of rape and violence in society" - how so? –  Adel Mar 30 '12 at 22:40
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I guess it's a means of physical assault that doesn't leave marks. It could be accomplished with a dildo instead, but that would lessen the psychological impact. –  Cees Timmerman Jun 25 '12 at 19:09

protected by Oddthinking Feb 19 '13 at 15:28

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