//No condoms please, we are Indians

No condoms please, we are Indians

Sushmita Bose

New Delhi, September 3, 2006, Hindustan Times        
Sex isn't taboo for the new global Indian. Condoms are. Buying the rubber over the counter makes most Indians turn various shades of pink, a study reveals.

The market for condoms shrunk in 2005 by 2.2 per cent in urban India and 6.9 per cent in rural India (in terms of volume).

The embarrassment factor has gone up from 26 per cent (in 2004) to 37 per cent in 2005, according to the study conducted by Synovate India. The study was done as part of the USAID/ICICI condom promotion campaign.

So why do otherwise confident men baulk at buying the contraceptive? "Asking for a condom exposes the consumer's intention to have sex, may provoke suppliers to visualise the consumer's partner in a sexual context, and stigmatises unmarried consumers by 'disclosing' that they are sexually active," says Anand Sinha, country director, PSP-One India (an USAID project).

In short, the average Indian still doesn't want his neighbours to know that he has sex.

That chemists turn incoherent at the mention of the C-word doesn't help. Varun (name changed), who works for an NGO, says that he wanted to know about different brands of condoms "but the chemist didn't let me choose a brand of my choice. He took a packet out and put it in a black polythene packet.”