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Sunday, 27 December 2009

Poor quality condoms irk sex workers!

The government will look into the concerns raised by sex workers of the red-light area here regarding the health problems resulting from "poor quality" of free condoms supplied to them.

Sex workers in the national capital`s infamous Garstin Bastion (GB) Road have alleged that free condoms provided to them by different NGOs supplied by the Government are causing itching and other similar problems.

These male contraceptives are distributed free of cost through non-government organisations and NACO to prevent sex-workers from being infected by sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS.

The sex workers have told PTI that they are planning to take the matter to the Government and will hold demonstration if the issue was not resolved to their satisfaction.

"Condoms given to us are really of very bad quality. We do not feel like using them. Irritation and other infections are some of common side effects," said Sunita, a sex worker.

When contacted, Joint Secretary at National AIDS Control Organisation Aradhana Johri said the department has not received any complaint regarding the health problems resulting
from the use of condom.

"But as you have brought the issue to our notice, we will direct the concerned officials to immediately look into the matter and submit their report," Johri said.

Johri also said that all the free condoms distributed meet the standards.

Kanta, another worker and owner of a brothel in the area said, "Condoms even get ruptured and make us susceptible to various sexually transmitted diseases like AIDS."

Radhika, a worker at a brothel said, "It is really irritating to use these condoms. There is always a danger of the condoms getting burst. We prefer to use a good quality product and bear the expenditure on our own."

There are about 116 brothels at the GB road in which about 5,000 women from across the country and some from neighbouring countries work.

NACO distributes about 220 crore free condoms annually across the country with the help of state AIDS control societies and voluntary groups to curb the spread of HIV.

"It is true that sex workers are given bad quality condoms. I have also written to Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and apprised him of the problem. Government has assured us to look into the issue but we will again press the issue," said Khairati Lal Bhola, President, Bhartiya Patita Uddhar Sabha, an NGO working for the upliftment of the sex workers.

Indian Council of Medical Research scientist S Mokkapati said, "Condoms without quality result in various STD including
HIV AIDS and generate other psychological problems."

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