While you were watching the USA Algeria World Cup soccer match the other day, about 317 women were raped in South Africa. And tomorrow, when you're cheering for the U.S. to trounce Ghana? Another 317.
Three hundred and seventeen. That's the number of South African women who are raped during one 90-minute World Cup soccer match.
The country has the highest rape rate in the world, according to Human Rights Watch, and one in four men there has admitted to raping someone. In 2006, Jacob Zuma, the South African President, was even tried for the crime. While he admitted to having sex with the young woman, he was acquitted of the rape charge. (In February of this year, he admitted he had a baby -- his 20th -- with the daughter of another family friend.)
Rape convictions aren't exactly the norm in South Africa, thus women and girls who experience violations are generally denied justice. But one woman is hoping to change all that.
Dr. Sonnet Ehlers invented the Rape-aXe, a latex condom fitted with razor sharp barbs to "snare" rapists, which she hopes will curb the country's alarming rape rate.
She got the idea for the condom 40 years ago when she was on call at a hospital and a rape victim walked in. "She looked at me and said, 'If only I had teeth down there,'" Dr. Ehlers told CNN. "I promised her I'd do something to help people like her one day."
The Rape-aXe is inserted like a tampon (women would wear it when they're going someplace they don't feel safe), and during penetration, jagged rows of teeth-like hooks latch onto the penis and cause the attacker excruciating pain. If he tries to remove it, it latches on even tighter. Only surgery can remove the Rape-aXe, which should alert doctors (and ultimately, the authorities) that the patient wasn't having consensual sex.
The condom has its critics. Some say it will make women more vulnerable to violence from their attackers; other say it will constantly remind women of their vulnerability. Some have even condemned it as a medieval device. To those critics, Dr. Ehlers responds, "A medieval device for a medieval deed."
She's handing out 30,000 free Rape-aXes in the South African cities where the World Cup is taking place.
For now, it seems to be one of the only solutions to that country's rape problem that has any real "teeth."
Image via Rape-aXe