Safe or Sorry Thai Ministry Of Healths Initiative To Install Condom Vending Machines At School

University life can be quite stressful, with long lectures and mountains of homework. When you're not in a classroom or the canteen, you probably head to the most popular sanctuary on campus. No we're not talking about the library; we're talking about the restroom! The restroom is the hippest place for students to hang out these days. Girls fix their makeup and hair, while guys 'shoot the bull' about the hottest new freshman girls as they comb their hair ? all in this private sanctity.The restroom offers a chance for students to freshen up and forget the academic world for a short while.

As well as allowing you to check yourself out in the mirror, grab a quick breather, and even use it for what it is designed for, the modern university restroom will soon also be a place for you to buy condoms.Many of you might be asking, 'What's the big deal?' Condom vending machines are almost everywhere these days: In the restrooms of shopping malls, hotels, restaurants and even gas stations; they're becoming as common as drink machines.A controversial decision, made last month by the Ministry of Public Health, proposes all postsecondary education institutions install condom vending machines in restrooms. This initiative has been warmly accepted by the Ministry of Education. This is not, however, the first attempt.

Back in 2003, the initial proposal met fierce opposition from the Ministry of Education, Academic authorities, and most surprisingly, even students themselves!.In November of 2003, student protesters made headlines around the world speaking out against placing condom vending machines in schools. They made the point that condoms are already easily available at convenience stores, so there was no need to provide them in schools. "It will mislead students into thinking teachers approve of sex," said Vitoon Chomchaipol, a key representative of the Students' Union Network.From the conservative point of view, education should be strictly for academics, and social issues such as sex, should be kept away from schools.

They believe that if the government supports having condoms easily accessible on campus, then it's another way of supporting/promoting casual sex among students.The liberal view is schools should play a bigger role in promoting sex education. They disagree that condom vending machines promote casual sex. "Those who buy condoms are already having sex, not buying condoms to try sex for the first time," said Chokechai, a second year engineering student at Kasetsart University.

One major argument is that even though condoms are available elsewhere, many Thai students are too shy to openly buy them over the counter. By providing easy and private access in a campus restroom, many more youth can acquire the means for practising safe sex.Stephanie, a Thai-Filipina third year student at Chulalongkorn University, sees both sides. She agrees that having easier access to condoms, like in a university bathroom, will provide the chance to engage in protective sex when the will to have sex is already there.

However, she also thinks that having less access might be more beneficial for those who aren't sexually active but considering. "If condoms were made trendy and easily available, it could be just another temptation and incentive to have sex," she said.No matter what side of the coin you agree with most, it's important that you aren't blind to reality. "People who oppose the plan must try to see the gravity of the HIV/AIDS situation in the country," said Education Minister, Chaturon Chaisaeng.Recent studies show that 100 per cent of male and 50 per cent of female vocational students had already engaged in sex while only 11 per cent and 15 per cent respectively used condoms. A majority of the newest HIV/AIDS patients are in the age group of 15-18 years old, where more than 80 per cent of such infections were due to unprotected sex.

.Jao Moragoat is a Thai American freelance journalist residing in Bangkok Thailand for the past five years. Raised and born in Colorado, New Mexico, and Illinois, USA, he has explored his ethnic roots in Asia pursuing his passion for life and the Arts.

By: Jao Moragoat

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