Indian Youth Festival Puts Sexy Back in Dialogue About Safe Sex

Posted by Agatha / on 08/20/2009 / 0 Comments

Author

Rama Lakshmi

Washington Post Foreign Service

Publication Date

March 20, 2009

Summary

According to this news article, a recent youth festival aimed at raising awareness about health issues and HIV in India did something unique to draw visitors. "Amid all the sobering talk of at-risk communities, safe sex, and health care, the festival invited bashful attendees to talk about pleasure." Because open conversations about sex remain taboo in the country, the debate about safe sex, as stated in the article, has been conducted primarily in the context of fear, danger, disease, and death. However, Anne Philpott, the British founder of the Pleasure Project, an international educational programme that promotes safe sex that "feels good", is teaming up with Indian health groups to "re-spin the safe-sex message".

 

Philpott claims that safe sex messaging is more effective when delivered in creative ways to incorporate pleasure and desire into the sexual-health dialogue than if done in a clinical manner. As stated here, 15 years after India began a national anti-AIDS programme, the government is still confronting the basic challenge of getting people to even utter the word "condom". An advertisement campaign called 'Condom Bindaas Bol' or 'Say Condom Freely' urges people to say the word without fear of stigma. (See the related summary below for more information about this campaign.)

 

At one festival booth, visitors were urged to leave tips on safe sexual pleasure in a drop box under a sign that asked, "Can safe sex be sexy?" In another booth nearby, the use of the female condom was demonstrated to curious onlookers. One area in which Philpott's pleasure principle is being implemented in India is the promotion of the female condom. Female condoms are being promoted as "another ornament" such as make-up or jewellery; and sex workers report persuading their clients to use the protection by citing enhanced pleasures.

 

According to the article, the number of non-governmental groups using the pleasure rationale to promote safe sex is slowly growing in India. Students, as reported here, were tired of safe sex lectures that had a moral base; and both health educators and students related to the idea of incorporating pleasure into the safe sex message.


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