Bandung. The Indonesian Council of Ulema’s West Java branch says the
health minister’s campaign to promote condom use among at-risk groups
including teenagers is unwise, adding that the Islamic group considers
such contraception to be reserved for married couples.
“Condoms are only used for a registered husband and wife,” Rafani Achyar, secretary of West Java’s Council of Ulema (MUI), said on Wednesday. “It is used to curb the birth rate. Outside that usage, we worry that it will only cause immorality.”
Not long after her appointment as health minister, Nafsiah Mboy, who is a former secretary of the AIDS Prevention Commission (KPA), said she would campaign for the use of condoms among at-risk groups, which included those 15-24 years of age. Her statement has sparked negative reaction from some quarters, mainly Islamic organizations.
She later clarified her position, saying she would only distribute condoms in certain places such as brothels, massage parlors, tourism spots and other places at which there was a high likelihood of sexual activity.
Regardless of the explanation, Rafani said the target of the campaign was unclear and would further encourage free sex among teenagers.
“Whatever her reason is, it will only be a reason for free sex and increasing HIV/AIDS,” he said. “I thought the government meant to reduce free sex, but instead will only spread the disease.”
The MUI issues edicts that serve as guidance for some Indonesian Muslims on certain contemporary issues.
In response to Rafani’s statement, the West Java Health Agency said people should fully understand Nafsiah’s condom campaign.
“Don’t read it in pieces,” Alma Lucyati, head of the West Java Health Agency, said on Wednesday. “The reason why the Health Ministry, under the baton of Nafsiah Mboy, is campaigning for condom usage is because HIV/AIDS has attacked groups not previously at risk, such as housewives.”
Alma said that through Nafsiah’s previous worked for KPA, the minister had precise data about a shift in groups at high-risk of HIV/AIDS infection, from prostitutes to housewives.
Alma also rejected Rafani’s opinion that condoms should be restricted to married couples.
“Who could guarantee that there is no premarital or extramarital sex, in which men who are not loyal could expose their wives or partners to HIV or AIDS?” she said. “There should be an umbrella for this condition — that is a condom. But again, don’t read [Nafsiah’s statement] partially.”