Monday was World Contraception Day, and statistics released by a coalition of 10 international NGOs indicate that about 8 million abortions take place in China each year (which is lower than China’s previous estimate of 13 million and their current estimate of 30 million!!) Despite the incredible numbers, Nanjing’s universities continue to ban condom vending machines on the basis that their presence could inspire sexually suggestive behavior amongst students. Even if that typical bunk argument is true, more students getting “jiggy with it” while using protection certainly trumps the alternative.
Condom vending machines should really be the last culprit to blame for sexual conduct problems in China. Sex-Ed related programs in China’s schools are notoriously absent, or even worse, inadequate (how can we forget the courses in “cock-blocks” or students who broke up couples engaged in PDA on school grounds.)
Chinese students interviewed in Nanjing claim that installing condom vending machines will not encourage more sex (it’s embarrassing enough purchasing jimmies at the supermarket let alone in front of your classmates) but rather foster a more open stance on college sex, something China’s schooling system has refused to adopt. The machines are an excellent tool to expose college students to the idea of contraception, and hopefully prevent them from going about the “deed” unsafely.
Fortunately, other parts of China are not complete strangers to school condom dispensers. In 2000, 2001, and 2002, condom vending units stealthily implanted themselves in Nankai, Shandong, and Xinjiang University campuses respectively. And although Shanghai’s 2008 plan to equip its 61 colleges with condom venders only yielded 13 takers, hey, sometimes you just shoot blanks.
Hopefully, Nanjing’s schools will follow suit and condom dispensers in colleges nationwide will become the catalyst for a healthier, more open-minded attitude towards sex throughout China. And with a more transparent sex curriculum, maybe students won’t have to do their own research online instead. And, at the very least, it would prevent a few of China’s 8-30 million unwanted pregnancies.
By Ben Cost