Malaysia’s deputy health minister recently urged Malaysian women to carry condoms. And he was especially attentive to the Malay majority, recognising that about three quarters of reported HIV cases in Malaysia are among ethnic Malays, who make up just under two thirds of the population. Many of these are men who inject drugs.
Good for Abdul Latiff Ahmad, is what I say. It’s a big step forward even suggesting that women in this relatively conservative population can initiate condom use. But as the always wise Marina Mahathir points out it’s one thing to carry condoms and quite another to use them. In many of our cases, this is a point that relates to opportunity — carrying condoms doesn’t help you get laid, sadly. But it is more importantly a point that relates to negotiation skills. Simply put, women don’t have anywhere to put a condom. So even if they have a chance to have sex, they can’t necessarily translate a condom in the own purse into a condom on their partner’s penis.
Still, the minister’s comments may allow women to defend themselves against arrest for prostitution simply because they’re packing latex. And as one sex worker remarked to me not that long ago: “Malay men are really lazy. If they’re standing in front of you ready to play and you pull out a condom, they’re not going to fight it. Too lazy.”
Bagimana, kawan kawan? Benar nggak?