A South African inventor [Sonette Ehlers] unveiled a new anti-rape female condom on Wednesday that hooks onto an attacker's penis and aims to cut one of the highest rates of sexual assault in the world. . . .

Sounds like a great plan, always on the assumption that it works. It may indeed, as some critics seem to say, "enrage the attacker further and possibly result in more harm being caused," in the words of "Sam Waterhouse, advocacy coordinator for Rape Crisis." But it may also make him run screaming in pain, focused more on getting the condom off than continuing with the act. This is especially so when the rapist doesn't have a gun or a knife, and in the U.S., at least, nearly 85% of rapes don't involve a weapon (see table 66 here). Naturally, not a panacea, but a nice try. Plus, it's also life imitating Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash.

But, shifting from Snow Crash to Princess Bride, "Other critics say the condom is medieval and barbaric"; I don't know who the critics are, but I did indeed see one criticism following the story, in a Kansas State University newspaper, calling the device "barbaric." I do not think that word means what you think it means. Rape is barbaric. Sticking hooks into an attacker's penis as a means of interrupting a rape is eminently legitimate self-defense, even setting aside the poetic justice. If barbarians' supposed sins consisted of fending off rapists, even in painful ways, "barbaric" would be a high compliment, not a pejorative.

Please don't confuse this, incidentally, with the question of what punishments are appropriate for rapists — a different matter from what devices are appropriate to stop rape. (For instance, U.S. law does not authorize the death penalty for rape, but it certainly allows people who are in danger of being raped, or who are being raped, to kill the attacker in order to prevent or stop the rape.)