Let’s go private and talk about sex. Human beings need sex for pleasure but most importantly for reproduction.
For unmarried couples and youths in active intimate relationships, there is a silent challenge they face when they want to have protected sex.
Who should carry or buy the condom? The men and women keep blaming each other. Some women think that it’s the man supposed to carry the condom. While the men argue that since it is the women that have the final decision, should always have condoms.
Taarifa combed through Kigali suburbs and abruptly held conversations with several people including both ladies and men. Their responses to the question of who should carry or buy the condom are very interesting.
According to condom distribution kiosks, men are more frequent at buying condoms compared to their female counterparts yet sex is between man and woman of which both could develop the desire to have sex.
Nyirabaributsa Généreuse, is a mid-aged lady who distributes condoms at a kiosk in Matimba, Nyamirambo in Nyarungenge district. She works round the clock. In her routine she has noticed that the number of girls asking for condoms are still very few compared to their male counterparts. When girls buy condoms, they do so during night or evening hours.
“Most of them [girls] come in the evening and they are aged between 18 and 60, we ask them their profession and age then we serve them,” Nyirabaributsa told Taarifa while keenly observing from her kiosk.
Nyirabaributsa and her workmates at the kiosk work in shifts but sometimes she can continue through the night when her colleague is not available therefore she can notice some people returning to ask for condoms mostly prostitutes.
“We give women 12 condoms once, but it’s impressing when you see some coming back demanding for more condoms as it’s their right to take them as they wish.”
Talking to different people especially the youth, some of them say that the protection should be two-way not only for boys. For that reason the boys feel that girls should also carry condoms but others disagree citing the Rwandan culture.
For Sewadata Benjamin works at a local bank, does not approve of excuses of Rwandan culture preventing girls from carrying condoms. He believes that girls should also always carry condoms with them.
“You know women can plan when to have sex but for us [men] we don’t plan it at all any time it can happen but if a girl knows already that she is going to a man’s house depending on their relationship she can take condoms,” Said Benjamin.
Mukeshimana Gloriose 23, is a house keeper in Kicukiro district and for her the most important thing in life is to protect herself and she doesn’t mind what people would say if they see her buy condoms.
“I don’t care what people say if they see me buying condoms, the essential is to protect myself, I used to always have them in my hand bag, I prefer protecting myself, and it’s my life,” Said Gloriose.
Gloriose adds that whatever the price a man can suggest to her she can’t have unprotected sex to destroy her life. She told Taarifa that it’s simple and normal to buy them [condoms] because everyone knows about their importance.
Christian faithful’s don’t agree with those promoting girls to carry condoms because the bible doesn’t accept sex before marriage and they argue that even Rwandan culture requires girls to protect their virginity until they get married.
However, things change day after day even though girls fear to buy condoms in public they make sex before marriage. when you look at numbers given by condoms distribution kiosks you find that there are even young people of 18 who demand for condoms.
Bigirimana Celestin the chairman of SOLUVAS Rwanda a Non-government organization in partnership with Rwandan government that distributes condoms for free, says that Rwandan girls always fear to buy condoms because of the culture, the number of women who go to condoms distribution Kiosks is still low.
Last week report of Nyamirambo shows that they served 6489 condoms and women who came to demand them were 156 and 609 men in Gikondo they served 4312 condoms women were 238 and 258 men then in Giporoso zone they served 5730 condoms, women who demanded were 294 and 423 men and those 3 zones in general served 688 women and 1290 men.
Celestin accounts that women who go to condoms distribution Kiosks are ½ of men but numbers are increasing depending on areas (sites). He explains that this program was implemented by the government of Rwanda in order to assure that Rwandans are healthy in a good country.
Most of supermarkets sell condoms and the big number of their clients also are men, but some of them don’t sell them because of owners’ beliefs. This means that women still have that mindset of attributing the whole protection to men.
Malik Kuyumba staff of Rwanda Biomedical Center says that every Rwandan should understand that the first thing to care about is the protection. Kayumba recommends Rwandans to be aware that old mindset should be changed.
“That mostly happens to the youth who are afraid of what people would think if they see them buying condoms, but actually even adults people feel guilty when they think that people would judge them to cheat on their spouse.