Indonesia halts condom program

Indonesia halts condom program
Unprotected: Students grouped under the Indonesian Muslim Students Action Front (KAMMI) protest at Simpang Lima Square in Banda Aceh on Wednesday. The group denounced the distribution of condoms by the Health Ministry, saying the safe sex campaign encouraged promiscuity.

Bowing to pressure from hard-line Muslim groups, the Health Ministry has decided to cancel National Condom Week 2013, a joint programme by the AIDS Prevention Commission (KPA) and condom maker DKT Indonesia.

"We met with the campaign organizers on Monday and we have all agreed that the campaign should be stopped," the ministry's disease control and environmental health chief, Tjandra Yoga Aditama, told reporters on Wednesday.

Tjandra said the ministry had only given approval for the event; it was not handling its implementation.

National Condom Week is an annual event that was launched in 2007.

The campaign sparked controversy following a publicity stunt published for the event.

One of the programme's advertisements included posters on a city bus showing actress and singer Julia Perez in a sexy pose along with the National Condom Week 2013 logo.

Members of conservative groups said the posters could encourage free sex and promiscuity among young people.

"The campaign has been relatively the same since 2007; the only difference now is that we have these ads on a bus that only travels to Cilandak Town Square," KPA secretary Kemal Siregar said, referring to a shopping mall in South Jakarta.

He said the bus was not even used to distribute condoms.

"The bus only operates in Jakarta and it was not used to distribute free condoms. We used the bus solely for communicating our message," Kemal said, brushing aside allegations that the bus had travelled to the outskirts of Jakarta to distribute condoms to the public.

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