New Delhi: The government will look into the
concerns raised by sex workers of the red-light area here
regarding the health problems resulting from "poor quality" of
free condoms supplied to them.
Sex workers in the national capital`s infamous Garstin
Bastion (GB) Road have alleged that free condoms provided to
them by different NGOs supplied by the Government are causing
itching and other similar problems.
These male contraceptives are distributed free of cost
through non-government organisations and NACO to prevent
sex-workers from being infected by sexually transmitted
diseases, including AIDS.
The sex workers have told a news agency that they are planning to
take the matter to the Government and will hold demonstration
if the issue was not resolved to their satisfaction.
"Condoms given to us are really of very bad quality. We
do not feel like using them. Irritation and other infections
are some of common side effects," said Sunita, a sex worker.
When contacted, Joint Secretary at National AIDS Control
Organisation Aradhana Johri said the department has not
received any complaint regarding the health problems resulting
from the use of condom.
"But as you have brought the issue to our notice, we will
direct the concerned officials to immediately look into the
matter and submit their report," Johri said.
Johri also said that all the free condoms distributed
meet the standards.
Kanta, another worker and owner of a brothel in the area
said, "Condoms even get ruptured and make us susceptible to
various sexually transmitted diseases like AIDS."
Radhika, a worker at a brothel said, "It is really
irritating to use these condoms. There is always a danger of
the condoms getting burst. We prefer to use a good quality
product and bear the expenditure on our own."
There are about 116 brothels at the GB road in which
about 5,000 women from across the country and some from
neighbouring countries work.
NACO distributes about 220 crore free condoms annually
across the country with the help of state AIDS control
societies and voluntary groups to curb the spread of HIV.
"It is true that sex workers are given bad quality
condoms. I have also written to Union Health Minister Ghulam
Nabi Azad and apprised him of the problem. Government has
assured us to look into the issue but we will again press the
issue," said Khairati Lal Bhola, President, Bhartiya Patita
Uddhar Sabha, an NGO working for the upliftment of the sex
Indian Council of Medical Research scientist S Mokkapati
said, "Condoms without quality result in various STD including
HIV AIDS and generate other psychological problems."