Indonesian Religious Groups Slam Condom Campaign


Debates have raged in the United States in recent years about the place of preventative sex education for the youth of the country but it’s not the only place that has witnessed this dialogue. Indonesia has also had a strong conservative reaction to the promotion of condoms as preventative measures in the fight against HIV.

Many religious conservative groups in the country, made up of a chain of islands which sit between Australia and Thailand, have resisted this new program to provide condoms and education to people throughout the population. These conservative Muslim leaders have expressed concern that the availability and marketing of condoms encourages young children to have sex, the Guardian reports. Conservatives align the campaign with the condoning of sexual activity in general.

Proponents of the condom campaign see the situation differently. Much of the emphasis in providing protection to all people, including sex workers, is an attempt to curb the spread of HIV throughout the country and also encourage an understanding of the virus and how it gets transmitted. The Guardian quotes Nafsiah Mobi, a health minister in Indonesia, regarding the promotion of condom use:

Growing religious conservatism in recent years means some red-light districts have been closed, but unregulated [sex work] is rampant there’s [sex work] in every harbour in the archipelago.

The government launched the national condom campaign in 2006. This program promotes a “100% condom use” approach. This campaign is mostly directed at the sex worker industry where transmission risk is high. Recent studies show that, globally speaking, sex workers are some of the most at-risk groups for contracting HIV. In Indonesia at least 200,000 people are infected with the virus and the number of infections tripled between 2006 and 2011.

The University of California in San Francisco notes that 8,300 Indonesians died of AIDS in 2009 and that about 88,000 of the HIV infections are women. The Guardian also notes that although there is a large segment of Muslim conservatives concerned the government is promoting promiscuity and sexual activity in young people, condom sales doubled between 2006 and 2011.

This week United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke at the International AIDS Conference in Washington DC. She stated that the US government is also committed to AIDS prevention and treatment through education, condom availability and medical materials. In her own words:

We’re focusing on what we call combination prevention. Our strategy includes condoms, counseling and testing, and places special emphasis on three other interventions: treatment as prevention, voluntary medical male circumcision, and stopping the transmission of HIV from mothers to children.

However, the United States has also taken a strong stance against helping global AIDS campaigns that are involved with sex workers, blocking funding for grantees who wish to aid sex workers. Indonesia is taking a stand in which the government recognizes that sex workers have human needs and are an at-risk group in the fight to prevent further HIV infections in the world. Indonesia joins Botswana in a concerted effort to combat growing HIV rates around the world in recent years, even when influential segments of the population push against such movements.


Related Stories:

Utah Passes ‘Don’t Say Gay or Contraception’ Sex-Ed Bill

Sex Ed Isn’t the Only Important Lesson for Teens

25 Percent of Adults in Botswana Have HIV, But That Number May Be Changing


Photo Credit: Gunkarta


Paula M.
Paula M5 years ago

My earlier post seems to have disappeared, so I will make another similar comment to this article.

While I have no beef with the use of contraception I think that the article, much like progressives in general, is to dismissive of local Indonesians' concerns that this campaign will encourage teenage sexual activity. Progressives seem to blind to the role of culture in discouraging premarital sex - sometimes even going so far as to say that such measures are futile, as though children are animals in rut - and do not consider the emotional harm that can result when a young man or woman has sex at the wrong time or with the wrong person. A condom cannot protect against the latter kind of harm and the Indonesians' concern that the condom campaign will have unintended harmful consequences is not unreasonable.

pam w.
pam w5 years ago

Doug K..."So tell me why it is our business ".

Why is ANY abuse of human rights "our business?" Why were concentration camps "our business?" Why was the genocide of the Kurds "our business."

If you regularly abuse's MY business. And, if you had a heart and principles of humanism....the regular abuse of Muslim women and deliberate withholding/misrepresentation of reliable education for young people would be your business, too.

Valentina R.
Valentina R5 years ago

Jamie C: "they want to keep the women barefoot pregnant and in the harem."

Yes. They will never stop being ignorant, uncivilized and chauvinist. It's in their genes, brains and culture.

Carlos Bagram
Carlos Bagram5 years ago

Easy available Condoms encourage sex about as much as easy available guns with high magazine capacity encourage massacres! Just because we make them available does not mean someone is going to use it in that way! Condoms and guns are inanimate objects, people decide what is done with them. Wait, wait, wait…. This is a far left wing forum. I am sorry I was out of line.
Condoms are good and will not motivate children to have sex. Guns are evil and will motivate children to kill each other. Give out condoms and ban guns! Because the Indonesian Muslim logic of having condoms available will motivate children to have sex is in no way, shape, or form aligned with the far left logic of easy access weapons will be used for what they are intended for. What was I thinking?

Sarah Mumford
S M5 years ago

Well said Rosemary G.

Rosemary G.
Rosemary G5 years ago

Helloooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo Fellow Americans, we have a similar movement on this very USA soil by religious right wing zealots..We have no longer a Democracy( not that we ever had it) but now we are slowly but surely going towards a Theocracy based on antiquated Judeo Christian principles inspired on man made invisible entity.Need I say more?

Alan G.
Alan G5 years ago

We all know that religious groups are always at the forefront of effective social policy, science, and all around general reasonableness.

Biby C.
Biby C5 years ago

Which century are these people living in?

Michael Kirkby
.5 years ago

Between Catholicism and Islam I don't know which one is worse for misogyny or perpetuating the myth that they are the only ones with the "true" religion. Everyone outside the faith is anathema and to be treated in whatever fashion the believer see fit. Of course both don't want sex education or condoms as it tends to diminish the number of future converts; followers who will comprise the body politic that allows them political power and influence. In the old days it was blessed was the man who had his quiver full in the terms of progeny. That needs to be curtailed and amended drastically in the face of a growing exponential human mass. Why anyone would want to bring a child into this world is beyond me. Then again humanity isn't that far removed from the chimps and bonobos in many of its behavioral aspects.

Marie W.
Marie W5 years ago

Condoms do not encourage sex- plain and simple. Keep everyone ignorant does.