Condoms have been around since 1855. Crazy, right? Not so long ago, one of the main purposes of condoms was to protect soldiers in World War II against STI’s. Not a lot of things have changed since then. There’s actually more and more reasons now why condoms are useful- it is accessible, it does not have side effects, it lowers risk of STI’s and HIV, and does not change the menstrual cycle like birth control does. That being said, there are several countries in the world that believe condoms and contraceptives are immoral. The below countries and its leaders blast condom use as dangerous. Their anti-condom rhetoric is bringing down youth and many others and could ultimately hurt the world.
Nigeria: Condoms are available throughout the country because of several health organizations’ efforts, however, only a small percentage of sexually active citizens who are engaging in high-risk sex use condoms. Most recently, the Society for Family Health (SFH) has introduced new variants of Flex condoms to help prevent sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy. While the government is overall supportive of reproductive health efforts, the measures that they are taking is much less embraced by certain states of Nigeria (there’s a total of 36 and the federal capital territory). For example, in the Anambra State, it is illegal to encourage condom use because the leaders believe condoms encourage immorality.
The Philippines: Condom use in the Philippines is one of the lowest in the Asia region. According to the UNDP, it is also one of seven countries where HIV cases have been rising by 25 percent since 2001. One of the reasons for this is because more than 80 percent of the population is Catholic and many sexually active people do not buy condoms and contraceptives because of the stigma and shame the church associates with contraceptive use. The Catholic Church and the government have come head to head regarding efforts to reduce the HIV/AIDS epidemic by offering free condoms and sex education. The church believes it is a change in lifestyle while the government is trying to promote condom usage. Additionally and most recently, the Philippine Department of Education rejected a proposal to distribute condoms in public schools. In December 2017, there was a recorded average of 24 new HIV infections per day and 29 percent of this group were 15-24 year olds. The rejection noted that youth under 18 need parental consent to receive condoms. The Philippines needs to address this HIV crisis and it is up to the Department of Education to try and implement safer sex education and prevention programs.
Zambia: Nine out of ten men who engaged in same-sex relations (ex. MSM) were unaware that condoms prevent HIV/AIDS during anal sex, research says. Same sex relations in Zambia are punishable by several years in prison, causing people to hide their sexuality and sexual health. The former President did not believe in condoms because “it is a sign of weak morals on the part of the user.” This anti-condom rhetoric is one of the many reasons more than one in seven people have HIV/AIDS in Zambia. In a study by Pinchoff et al. (2017), discusses the experiences of high unmet need for family planning and high rates of HIV among youth. While condoms are available, there are very low rates of condom usage. A total of 2,388 individuals were interviewed and the results showed non-use of male condoms was very high among youth, married adults, and especially women, who may be interested in contraception for family planning but are still at risk for infection. There is a need for effective marketing strategies and protection methods.
Indonesia: The United Nations reported Indonesia as having one of the fastest growing HIV rates in Asia. Over 80 percent of HIV/AIDS cases are the results of unprotected sex, most of which are among commercial sex workers. Indonesia is a predominantly Muslim country and whenever sex education is brought up, they are scolded by Muslim leaders. The parliament believes that condom messaging and marketing are dangerous because it promotes promiscuity. Additionally, one government agency wanted to ban selling condoms to teenagers entirely. In February of last year, Indonesian authorities raided convenience stores and seized condoms in a major city to stop teenagers from having casual sex on Valentines Day; celebrating the holiday has even been banned in some parts of the country.