The thing about condoms

Social stigma keeps condom use low in the Philippines

SAFE SEX TALK. Social stigma still keeps condom use low in the Philippines

Passing the reproductive health law brings sexual health issues front and center. But social stigma is still a barrier for serious discussions.
Devon Wong reports.

 


Sex is a favorite topic among Red Dela Cruz’s girlfriends.

RED DELA CRUZ, MODEL: They just want to talk about what they your boyfriend is doing with you, and how to do this and that… because I learn a lot from them because we’re always talking about sex and my friend is also a bit naughty.

Despite this, serious discussions on sexual health is still taboo.
But it’s the silence that allows misconceptions to, well, reproduce.

RED DELA CRUZ: But some girls buy condoms because they think that when you put your condom into your wallet it’s a lucky charm, that’s what I heard from them. Really, that’s what I heard from them, my friends. Not to get buntis.

Red has made it her career to sell sexy in order to promote safe sex as a brand ambassador.

RED DELA CRUZ: It’s very, very easy to get a disease without using condoms. Tell your boyfriend to use condom for sex.

The law is no longer a barrier to buying condoms in the Philippines, but the fear of standing in line with a pack might be.
This condom company has been marketing condoms to Filipinos for over twenty years and says social stigma still plays a huge role in low condom use.

NORMAN CAMPOY, DKT PRODUCT MANAGER: I hope that someday people would realize that it’s a product that’s there to protect them. We’re not here to promote sex, but we are acknowledging the fact that more people are doing it.

Whether more people are ‘doing it’, they’re certainly not talking about it.

GRETCHEN, AGE 27: Stigma associated with it is ‘you’re loose’. You’re promiscuous, you’re loose. You don’t have morals. That’s the stigma associated with buying condoms.

Norman insists the problem is not access, but the fear of being judged.

NORMAN CAMPOY: Here in the Philippines women are judged unfairly if they buy condoms and I think that they are the ones who will suffer from the consequences if they get pregnant. So women should learn how to buy condoms.

Fear of judgment keeps many girls behind closed doors and looking to the web for answers, but this has its complications.

GRETCHEN: There’s a danger. There’s a danger because no one actually moderates the information that you get.

With the passage of the RH bill in the Philippines, the next step is changing attitudes and transcending inhibitions.

Reproductive health advocates say it’s now time for sex education to take centerfold.


Devon Wong, Rappler, Manila.

 

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