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What’s Driving Youngsters To Buy Condoms And Lingerie Online?

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By Ankita Ghosh:

Did you know that the latex condom was invented in the 1920s, a good 3 decades ahead of the life-saving Polio vaccine? So we’ve practically had an antidote for unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases well before somebody came up with a cure for a deadly virus that was claiming over 300,000 lives annually. And yet, while organized global campaign has reduced cases of Poliomyelitis by 99%, only 5% of all males wear condoms today and 2.5 million people every year are still diagnosed HIV positive. You can’t help but wonder why the use of an ingenious invention such as the condom isn’t being promoted more.

PicMonkey Collage

Let us now consider the question of another ‘surreptitious’ invention, the bra. The earliest known brassiere had been patented in the year 1914 and has since been an intimate witness to the modern woman’s social history. Some artfully tailored cloth with less than a yard of elastic and little bit of wiring has held a social position of its own; remember the bra-burning movement of the 1960s? The bra today has a consumer market worth of 16 billion US dollars. Yet flashing a square inch of a bra is considered violation of dress codes even in certain progressive western societies. Menihek High School in Canadian Labrador city has appallingly sexist clothing requirements and sent several young girls home for exposing their bra-straps.

Regulars would know that condoms, lingerie, products for sexual wellness and adult recreation are discreetly marketed over online shopping sites. Ever wondered why? Competing E-commerce companies that market these products categorically take pride in who can best preserve consumer discretion. Try browsing the internet and Cilory, Healthkart, Shykart, Goodlife, Snapdeal will immediately try to lure you with their best available deals and promises of discreet packaging. They will even go to the extent of arguing in favor of online purchase over the supposedly humiliating experience at the local Chemist’s. Isn’t that how you’ve been buying sanitary pads since you were fourteen; carrying black polythene and wearing a red face?

On conditions of strict anonymity my friend explained rather bluntly, “Imagine walking into a pharmacy and someone your dad’s age judging you from behind the counter! I’d simply asked for a pack of condoms. Aren’t they supposed to cheer us for practicing safe sex?” Yet another distraught acquaintance narrates an embarrassing experience of walking into a small, crammed hosiery store in her hometown and having been given the stares when she asked for lace-trimmed push-up bras. It might be interesting to find out what determines consumer behavior and how fast new India is catching up with online-purchase.

One thing’s for certain though. India’s moral-police indeed seems to be at odds with her changing moral standards. There’s still a mighty lot of moral-shaming attached to purchase and possession of products catering to physical/sexual needs and more so in the acknowledgement of the same. A country chased by the dictums of centuries old social ethics is grappling with the evolving behavior of that very society. What can only be called an obnoxiously conservative response, from the self-appointed watchdogs of the Indian society, has stemmed from generations of deliberate indifference to all-round sex-education. Most of our present generation has had half-hearted sex education lessons in school while natural curiosity has been hushed at home.

Today when this very generation goes out to embrace its sexuality and becomes vocal about its bodily needs, we’re met with some of the most outrageous consequences. Buying lingerie or sexual welfare products physically becomes a task whereas online-shopping with its array of choices and mainly absence of societal disapproval becomes more and more convenient. Perhaps we’ve come a long way from hush-hush conversations to overall acceptance of sexual requirements. Yet, from discreet nomenclature to a society unyielding to the stigma that’s been created by it, it still feels like a long way to go.

You must be to comment.
  1. KinkpinI

    Good article by Ankita Ghosh

  2. Sneha Kukreti

    awesome article!!this was required to be talked about 😀

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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