Jakarta — Chairwoman of Muslimat NU, Khofifah Indar Parawansa has strongly protested against the implementation of National Condom Week 2013, a joint program by the AIDS Prevention Commission (KPA) and condom maker DKT Indonesia.
According to Khofifah, the condom program organized to coincide with World AIDS Day which falls on December 1 is equal to the social disaster for this country.
“If the condom program is continued, it will be a new disaster for the country which embraces Pancasila, believes in God and is religious, especially in the midst of efforts to improve morality,” Khofifah said here on Monday (02/12/2013).
He added that, the condom program had encouraged people to have sex outside marriage by distributing condoms in public spaces to the public and adolescents for free.
“If condoms are distributed in the street or in a public crowd, and accepted by the teens who have a tendency to try, they could be compelled to have sex freely after obtaining free condoms distributed openly,” she said.
National Condom Week is an annual event that was launched in 2007.
The campaign sparked controversy following a publicity stunt published for the event.
One of the program’s advertisements included posters on a city bus showing actress and singer Julia Perez in a sexy pose along with the National Condom Week 2013 logo.
Members of conservative groups said the posters could encourage free sex and promiscuity among young people.
“The campaign has been relatively the same since 2007; the only difference now is that we have these ads on a bus that only travels to Cilandak Town Square,” KPA secretary Kemal Siregar said, referring to a shopping mall in South Jakarta.
He said the bus was not even used to distribute condoms.
“The bus only operates in Jakarta and it was not used to distribute free condoms. We used the bus solely for communicating our message,” Kemal said, brushing aside allegations that the bus had traveled to the outskirts of Jakarta to distribute condoms to the public.
Conservative groups and politicians at the House of Representatives expressed their concerns about the campaign, part of a program to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.
While the Health Ministry was hosting the press briefing, more than 50 students from the Islamic Students Association (HMI) burned condoms outside the ministry’s office to reject the campaign.
“We reject National Condom Week because it offends Muslims. We must reject this,” said one of the protesters. “We want Nafsiah Mboi to apologize for this policy,” another said in a speech, referring to the Health Minister.
Kemal said that even though the campaign had been terminated, the commission would proceed with other programs to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.
“Our focus is on preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS through sexual transmission and the campaign only prioritizes those at risk. Thus, it will be conducted in a closed location and will be aimed directly at sex workers and drug users,” Kemal said.
He added that the commission would continue to campaign for safe sex.
“We are obliged to inform the public that condoms are a health device to prevent unwanted pregnancy and HIV/AIDS,” he said.
Kemal also denied reports that condoms had been distributed to schools and colleges in the country.
“We only distributed leaflets about HIV/AIDS to students,” he said.
Health Ministry data shows that from 1987 through the third quarter of this year, 108,600 people were infected with HIV, 43,667 of whom were diagnosed with AIDS, in 348 out of 497 regencies across the archipelago.
The data also recorded a breakdown of those most affected by the virus as follows: entrepreneurs, farmers and fishermen (13,061); housewives (5,131); sex workers (1,712), and students (1,089), while the highest at-risk group was heterosexuals, who accounted for 60 percent of all cases.
The data showed Jakarta had the highest prevalence of HIV with 6,299 people, while Papua had the highest prevalence of full-blown AIDS with 7,795 people.
Editing by Sudarto Murtaufiq