In what almost seems like an annual event at this point, Indonesian lawmakers have moved to limit the sale of condoms. They say the widespread availability of contraceptives encourages extra-marital sex and contributes to the spread of AIDS.
The so-called logic of the proposed ban is that young people will be so terrified of becoming pregnant they will stop having sex altogether. It doesn’t take too much brain work to expose some of the flaws in this plan, but many in Indonesia are right behind the proposal.
This time the ban comes from lawmakers in Bengkulu province on the southwest coast of Sumatra. They are currently drafting a bill that would limit the sale of contraceptives to pharmacies and other stores licensed to sell medicines.
They even have the backing of the head of the provincial health agency, Amin Kurnia, who told the Jakarta Post: “We highly appreciate the Bengkulu DPRD for drafting a bill to prevent HIV and AIDS. This proves that the council members are very concerned about HIV and AIDS.”
This isn’t the first time a ban on condom sales has been mooted in Indonesia. In 2012, a top official of the government’s Indonesian Child Protection Commission said young people shouldn’t be allowed to buy condoms. Asrorun Ni’am Sholeh was apparently alarmed that condoms were being given away with chocolate for Valentine’s Day.
In February of this year authorities in Surabaya moved to restrict condom sales after more Valentine’s Day hijinks.
While such knee-jerk proposals are likely misguided, the spread of AIDS in Indonesia is a serious problem. Deaths from the disease jumped 427 percent between 2005 and 2013. Local authorities often blame extramarital sex and drugs for the spread of the disease, though UNAIDS says the lack of availability of antiretroviral drugs is a key factor in the high number of deaths.