Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Condom responsibility

Lamprecht AG, a Swiss condom manufacturer, has launched smaller sized condoms for young teenagers. The company says the new product is in response to increasing incidence of teenage pregnancies and spread of sexually transmitted diseases in Switzerland.

A local NGO -AIDS Hilfe Switzerland- dedicated to promoting AIDS awareness persuaded the company to start manufacturing smaller condoms. Currently, these kiddy condoms- named Ceylor Hotshot Condom- are for sale in Switzerland only.

Teen pregnancy rates and sexually induced diseases have been on the rise in many countries. There have been reports that kids as young as 12 years old are becoming sexually active. Blame it on the internet, influence of movies and TV serials and sexy advertisements that children are exposed to from the young age.

Sex education from even younger age is becoming necessary. Teaching kids abstinence is something parents and educators must do. But is that enough? Perhaps not. How about teaching safe sex? Religious leaders and moralists don't like this idea. But rationalists would advocate abstinence as the first choice followed by practicing safe sex if the first choice is not made. Condoms obviously will play a crucial role in ensuring safe sex.

But the problem with condoms is that they come in adult sizes. When kids as young as 12-13 years try to use them, they are oversized for them and easily come off.

Lamprecht AG's teenage condoms are aimed at addressing the size problem. Will or should the condom industry leader SSL International, the UK-based maker of Durex, follow suit? Their decision to produce and market smaller size condoms could potentially prevent pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases among children and young teenagers.

Lamprecht's decision to make smaller condoms has gone unopposed so far. How will the religious leaders and moralists respond if a company like SSL says it will introduce condoms for young boys? Are there any real reputational risks for the company if such a decision is made?

The issue for parents is that should they take into account condom expense in deciding the pocket money for their boys?

Condoms have a history of opposition in their 400 years of existence. But the opposition has increasingly turned into acceptance over the centuries. Should condom manufacturers be afraid of opposition anymore?

Making smaller condoms available however is only part of the issue. Educating youngsters to use condom during every encounter is no easy task. Should condom manufacturers fund NGOs promoting safe sex among kids that includes the use of condoms? A real slippery issue for companies.

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