Indian men cannot be trusted in their sexual behaviour and are fuelling the country’s HIV epidemic, Women and Child Development Minister Renuka Chowdhury said on Monday.
“You cannot trust men or your husbands, with apologies to the men present here,” she told a meeting of the National Women Forum of Indian Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS.
“If you believe that men will be careful, then you can forget about protecting yourself,” the minister said. “Men will not buy a condom when they come staggering home while drunk”, Chowdhury said, adding that women must not be embarrassed to ask for condoms.
“Women need to get condoms to protect themselves; let the men be suspicious,” she said.
India has 25 lakh people living with HIV/AIDS, the third highest number of people in any country after South Africa and Nigeria. Nearly 40 per cent of those infected are women.
Officials and activists believe that raising the level of awareness will help check the epidemic.
A move to introduce sex education at the behest of the National AIDS Control Organisation, however, has run into hurdles in some places. Several state governments have opposed sex education for schoolchildren, saying it will go against Indian culture.
Chowdhury said the opposition to sex education was morally hypocritical.
“We have a population of one billion and we don’t want to
talk about sex,” she said. “We have to be vocal on such issues. If we don’t, then it will effect the generations to come.”
Sujatha Rao, director general of the National AIDS Control Organisation, said a task force would take a second look at the sex-education module. “We want the message to be loud and clear for senior-secondary students to understand,” she said. “There should be no shadow-boxing about HIV/AIDS.”