Contraceptive Questions

One of the best things to come about that empowered women a lot more than others was contraceptives. Suddenly, women could choose when to have babies. They could also choose to be sexually active and well… Not care a damn. While this is a great thing– greater sexual freedom also means AIDS and a whole host of other STDs.Sonagachi, Bengal’s famed red-light area where organised women’s groups are fighting for the rights of sexual workers make contraception free and compulsory. ‘Tales of the Night Fairies’ (a documentary by Sohini Ghosh), tells this part of the story brilliantly.

There is one important part, however, that I think most people miss about sex and contraception. Two years ago I worked with a human rights group in Delhi on the issue of AIDS. It was one of those burning summer afternoons, I was gulping down pitcher after pitcher of deliciously cold nimbu paani while demonstrating to a group of women from Jharkand– the ABC’s of a condom and why it is important use one. I talked about AIDS and about how condoms were the only other method to prevent AIDS aside of abstinence. Jamuna– a beautiful, fiery and intelligent girl just twenty-two, married for six years with four children already was I could see dying to interrupt me. I acquiesced. The gist of what she said was this:
Even if I decide to use a condom, he will not allow it.

At that point I was temporarily dumbfounded. I could have said: argue, stand up for yourself… But that would be nonsense. Most of these women have only one partner throughout their lives- their husbands, and yet they have AIDS not to mention a whole host of other STDs. What was I supposed to say to Jamuna who had scars all across her body because she had tried talking her husband into using condoms? The truth is, that even condoms are not gender equitable solutions. To use a condom requires a two-way understanding- not common to Indian households. The power to chose is still not with the women.

A friend pointed me here and said that there is a solution. It is in desperate need of funding. Please help.