Miniature flamethrowers that can fit into a handbag, branded as “anti-pervert weapons”, are being sold online in China despite being classified as dangerous items that cannot be taken on public transport. The pen-sized gadgets are about 20cm long and can shoot flames of up to 25cm at the press of a button. Marketed at women to fend off attackers, they are being sold as “not a weapon, yet better than one”. “No matter where we stand, we can protect ourselves,” reads one of the advertising slogans. At 90 yuan to 300 yuan (US$13 to US$44) each, one shop on Taobao said it had sold about 300 of the flamethrowers in the past 30 days. Taobao is owned by the Alibaba Group, which also owns the South China Morning Post . Why are ‘women priority’ carriages on China’s subway being overrun by men? An employee from the shop, Yipinxuan, described the device as akin to “a strong lighter”. “It can be used to light a campfire, a barbecue or an oven. And women can use it to fight off perverts,” he said. The employee added that the flamethrower was “effective and won’t hurt others” – claiming that unless someone was “soaked in petrol” it would not cause immediate burns. But despite generally positive reviews of the flamethrowers, the fact they contain butane, an inflammable gas, means they can’t be taken on trains or planes. One in three Hong Kong women a victim of actual or attempted indecent assault on MTR: survey The State Post Bureau also prohibits explosive or inflammable gases such as butane from being sent through the post or by courier. The Yipinxuan employee said the product was being delivered to buyers by truck. Although there was no specific law banning such a device, an unidentified police official told the state-run Beijing Youth Daily newspaper that it would be too dangerous to carry around. That was apparently not an issue for some of those who have already bought the flamethrowers. “It’s awesome,” one reviewer wrote on Taobao. “This is more convenient and effective than a stun baton.” Chinese billionaire Xiao Jianhua’s all-female bodyguards ‘quite unusual’, say security experts Another reviewer said: “The flame is big – I won’t be scared on my walk home at night.” Beijing police have said that a recent crackdown on sexual harassment against women on trains netted more than 20 offenders since the middle of June, while “priority carriages” for women were introduced in Guangzhou and Shenzhen last month.