“We should not be scared of going out and we shouldn’t have to protect ourselves with cooking ingredients.”
-Kajol Batra, a 28 year old student in Delhi responding to a senior Indian police officer who told women to avoid rape by not going out at dark and carrying chili powder to throw at offenders.
Who knew that simply HAVING some of those items in the image to the left could be grounds for being arrested? I sure didn’t, but it seems that authorities in several cities in the USA disagree with me.
When I saw in the news that aid and health agencies were handing out condoms to sex workers to help minimize the risk of HIV and STI transmission (as well as the risk of pregnancy) I thought; “that’s amazing! Finally moving past stigmas and making decisions based on basic human health needs.” Then I saw that police and public authorities were confiscating those condoms essentially giving women the option to hand the condoms over or go to jail and I was enraged. I was even more enraged when I found out that this was happening in the USA – which in my opinion is a country that is quickly and systematically removing basic health and rights from women. What is most sad about this, is that I wasn’t even surprised to hear about it.
What I find worst about this scenario is that possession of condoms isn’t illegal, yet authorities are making women scared to have condoms, scared to use them, scared to have safe sex. Instead of protecting women and allowing safe sex options and transitional methods to give women alternatives to sex work, authorities are making sex work even less safe and even harder to get out of.
People should be praising women around the world who make the effort and insist on condom use, yet women are being punished for trying to protect themselves. So everyone who has access and ability, use condoms, be safe. Not only are you protecting yourself, but you’ll be sending a message to authorities worldwide who seem to want to limit women’s access to safe and affordable contraception.
The irony of this situation is that Washington D.C. – one of the cities where Human Rights Watch has documented this ridiculous condom possession and jail scenario – is actually hosting the 19th Annual International AIDS Conference.