South Africans are using fewer condoms, sleeping around more and becoming less knowledgeable about HIV/AIDS, says the latest household survey by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), released in March last year. And yet, as part of its newly launched safe sex campaign (probably the 100th safe sex campaign in South Africa), the South African Department of Health plans to distribute 3 billion flavoured male condoms, 54 million female condoms and 60 million lubricant packets during the next three years. The rebranded condoms and lube will be dispensed to 4,000 sites nationwide and will cost South African taxpayers 3.5 billion rands, according to The Conversation, an independant news source (I bet I impressed you with the stats hey, thank God for Google). I can think of a few things that are much more needed in South Africa that 3.5 billion rands can buy, instead of flavoured or scented condoms.
I am not denying that HIV/AIDS is a major problem in SA and free condoms are a huge necessity. But why should other major factors that we’re facing take a back seat? Female sanitation is a very serious yet ignored and widely considered taboo issue. Now I have never heard of any complaints of fault about the original/normal Choice condoms, yet we unnecessarily throw billions away on grape scented condoms. Yet poor South Africans, barely affording to buy a loaf of bread, have to buy basic sanitary pads to salvage whatever dignity they have left as government doesn’t seem to care enough. In rural areas, many girls use unhygienic alternatives to sanitary pads, such as newspaper or even sand and leaves, which puts them at a huge risk of infection. Many of these girls do not have mothers and come from child headed homes. Nine million girls aged between 13 and 19 miss a week of school every month, for lack of sanitary pads or tampons. They are missing over 25% of school because of something they have no control over. Now isn’t that reason enough to have sanitary pads available for free in a similar manner as condoms are?
Menstruation should not be a taboo subject, there is nothing shocking, dirty, embarrassing or shameful about it. Condoms used to be just as taboo, if not much more, yet we did manage to turn that around and made everyone realise that they are a necessity to the sexually active beings that we are. Excuse me for bashing the government, but they are the ones most needed to get involved. There is an amazing woman called Sue Barnes who started this organization called Project Dignity. Recognized and awarded the Clarins Most Dynamic Woman Award of 2013 for her tireless efforts to achieve her dream of a better and dignified world. She used resources not provided by those elected to protect our basic human rights (the government) and her fashion industry knowledge to help combat this struggle. She has created washable and reusable undergarments for girls (creating much needed jobs in the process) to be worn while they are on their periods. These undergarments are called “Subz”. She has been handing them out to underprivileged girls at schools for free. These undergarments are SABS approved for absorbency. This is an invention that has gone beyond just assisting those who couldn’t afford sanitary pads and tampons, it has also helped so many young girls to be comfortable and confident with themselves. But she did not only hand them out, she cared enough to talk to the girls and realised that they knew nothing about what was happening with their bodies. So she then began educating them on puberty and menstruation. She gladly lends them her ears and offers a caring shoulder to cry on. Now imagine if she could get some backing from our government how much of a difference it would make on millions of lives in our country. But all they care about is organizing Women’s Day High Tea events. Information on how you can buy Subz or give much needed donations to Project Dignity are available at: http://www.subzpads.co.za/ and http://www.projectdignity.org.za/
The problem we have in South Africa is thinking one has to be directly affected by something to care about it. And we think one has to be rich to help the needy. Bill Gates once asked, “Who has ever became poor by giving?” Now I hope people have understood me well, I am not undermining the government’s efforts on fighting HIV/AIDS and teen pregnancy, I am just frustrated that they are treated as though there’s no other struggle South Africans are facing that is as sad and less dignifying… >>>The views expressed in this blog post are not that of Sue Barnes, Subz Pads or Project Dignity, they completely belong to me<<<
Now I bet females be like, “Nigga, when did you become an expert on sanitary pads, all of a sudden?”… I’ve dated, okay!? Get off my case 😉
‘Till Next Time Peeps, BHA-BHAYINI!