Some thoughts on usage of sanitary pads and condoms in Bangladesh

Ansuya Juthikaa(Translated by Shanjida Nahar Priya):

George VI, the adulterous king of Britain, made a surprise discovery by his private physician to protect the king from sexual misconduct. It was named after that doctor and the name is Condom.  Although it has some nicknames too. It could be called slang instead of a nickname, such as a rubber boot. In ancient Egypt, even during sexual intercourse, the thin silk handkerchief was used as a penis cover. In fact, in almost all civilizations around the world, the use of gender covering was the norm during sex. This is the reason behind the birth of the condom. Protecting the penis from arousal fluid while having sex. Whatever it is in the whole world, the condom has never been popular with Bangladeshi males. 

Condoms have always failed to play the role of birth control in this country. Rather they think condoms are only be used while having unprotected sexual intercourse.  Though condoms can protect from sexual diseases and can control the population as well, it does not matter to married men.

It is hard to think about birth control in a country consisting of 90% of the Muslim population. It was a huge fail in spite of distributing Raja condom, Panther condom, and Sukhi Pill. In order to encourage male vasectomy and female ligation, things like clothes distribution and advertisement didn’t work at all. In the slums of rural and urban areas condoms have been recognized as an alternative of balloons to the children. It may be secretly used by an emerging youth but has never been distinguished in clans. The price of condoms in social marketing is the reason behind the expel of condoms in middle-class families.

There are some specific buyers for condoms. However, these customers are not exactly in the queue, they are somewhat called adventure loving.  Condoms have never been popular with middle-class men. Rubber was the main ingredient for condoms until latex. Now condom has been blessed with technology. The price of condoms that the government offers through the social marketing company is not yet to be called cheap.  Condoms are uncomfortable for men, one of the most disliking methods of birth control.

Just like other problems, the problem of extra members in the household is also being faced and tackled by women. 

In spite of knowing how harmful it is for health, women are using hormone injections, pill, copper tea, not even think twice to do ligation. Every step has been failed to raise the popularity of men’s vasectomy.  Advertisements like “A responsible man does vasectomy in order to control population growth” also didn’t work.  In addition to the Bangladeshis, the Rohingyas are also not interested to use condoms for birth control. It not only creates overpopulation but also increases the risk of sexually transmitted diseases. This is because of the geographical location of Bangladesh, the risk of AIDS is high. Like some other diseases, dengue and Zika virus also spread through sex. The situation is such that measures are needed to encourage men to use condoms.  The government should increase its users even though subsidies are required to lower prices.

The risk of cervical cancer, like some other cancers in Bangladesh, is alarming.  Six thousand women die every year, and every year more than twelve thousand women are infected with the disease.  Not only is the disease affecting women due to the insufficiency of cleaning or lack of awareness, but unsafe sex is also a major cause of cervical cancer.  As well as the use of impure clothes during menstruation and lack of cleaning during delivery.

Whispers or senoras are not available to the village girls.  Even they do not dream of using Monalisa. There is no opportunity in the village to sell two packets of whispers, such as Buy One Get One Free, in the interest of promoting such companies like it is in the city center.  However, the girls of the village are now under the use of sanitary pads. They are buying Jaya or Jolly instead of senora. Unmarried women in school colleges can enjoy these uses. And if you know about married women, that’s horrible enough.

In villages, every pharmacy has a village quack. Married women are their topmost targets. In order to reduce the cost of household and as a way of birth control they use an injection called Depo Provera which lasts for 3 months. They can cover three months regularly only at 50 takas. And the real calculation is after taking this injection it will take almost 5 months to get the period properly again. That is why married women take this injection throughout the year with proper calculation.

According to medical science, in 12 months though it is important to have menstruation at least 3 times, there are some ways for village women to stop their period for ages. In this country, instead of reducing the price of sanitary pads, they consider it as a luxury product and impose VAT on it.

A big portion of married women in cities tries very hard to control their menstruation throughout the year. I think all kinds of VAT on condoms and sanitary pad should be withdrawn. It should be easily accessible to lower and middle-income people. In advertising, not only mention the birth control, the importance or comfort of a small family, but also the risks and dangers of sexually transmitted diseases.

Also, consider importing menstruation caps and tampons, considering the comfort of women.  So far tampons are not sold in the country, some are used on an individual level Someone brings it from abroad or by someone else.  And menstruation Cap is brought in by representatives of some development companies in the country and so far its subscribers are limited.  But the menstruation cap is more convenient, affordable and less risky than the sanitary pad.

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About the writer:
Ansuya Juthikaa is a civil servant by profession and a columnist by passion.

About Shanjida- our volunteer translator:

Shanjida Nahar Priya is currently pursuing MSc in Economics from Jahangirnagar University. She is passionate about reading books, exploring new things and collecting makeup stuff.

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