PURWOKERTO, Central Java: The chief patron of Indonesia’s largest Muslim organisation has urged the Health Affairs Ministry to halt the National Condom Week currently being held from Dec 1 to 7, Indonesian news agency ANTARA reported.
“I urge the ministry to stop observing National Condom Week because it justifies casual sexual behaviour,” said Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) head K.H. Hasyim Muzadi on Tuesday.
He said if the government wants to tackle the AIDS/HIV epidemic, it should attempt other strategies.
“I disagree with the free distribution of condoms. Such measures must be stopped immediately,” said the former vice presidential candidate after delivering his speech at a discussion on ‘National Stability before 2014’.
National Condom Week is organised by the Health Affairs Ministry and carried out by the National AIDS Commission (NAC) in cooperation with a leading condom manufacturer.
On Monday, Indonesian Ulema Council’s (MUI) chairman K.H. Amidhan said his party was against the implementation of National Condom Week.
“The MUI does not agree with the implementation of National Condom Week because it only suits the interests of the condom manufacturers and does not promote the use of contraceptives,” he said.
Amidhan argued that promoting condoms could be misinterpreted by teenagers as permission to engage in casual sexual activities.
“Sex education for the public, including teenagers, is more important than promoting condom use,” he said.
Muhammad Sulton Fatoni, deputy secretary to the executive board of NU, said while efforts to prevent increase in AIDS cases were noble, the distribution of free condoms could be misused by people to commit adultery.
“The free distribution of condoms might also run afoul of religious teachings,” he warned.
However, Health Minister Nafsiah Mboi said promoting condom use is not wrong.
“Distributing cigarettes is more dangerous than launching a campaign to distribute condoms,” the minister said.–BERNAMA