Women’s Aid Organisation is outraged over the Selangor Government’s intention to restrict the sale of condom as stated by Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo in the News Straits Times report “MB: Restrict Condom Sale” (page 9, News Straits Times, 5 December 2001). The repercussion of the restriction on condom sale is dangerous. Firstly, it will further stigmatise those who are infected by HIV/AIDS in that the public will automatically assume that anyone who buys condoms must be HIV positive. This will also make married couples who wish to use condoms as a method of contraception shy away from it. This is especially so when anyone who needs to purchase condoms will have to produce medical certificates – whether to prove that they are married or HIV positive. In addition, the ability for women and men to protect themselves from other forms of sexually transmitted diseases is severely curbed, and the right for sexually active people to practice safer sex is taken away. Also, by making it difficult for the public to gain access to condoms, this might lead to an increase in unwanted pregnancies, abortions or abandoned babies. Women are already in a vulnerable position in terms of negotiating for safer sex. By imposing this restriction, women are left with even less options of protecting themselves.
The restriction of condom sale does not necessarily mean that sexual activity will be restricted. Furthermore, the usage of condoms is one of the most effective ways of preventing HIV/AIDS. If the government is indeed serious about combating the HIV/AIDS problem in this country, it should encourage education and understanding on the issue, reduce the stigmatisation and prejudice related to the disease, and provide accurate information and access to prevention: namely, practicing safer sex by using condoms and not sharing hypodermic needles.
Women’s Aid Organisation