GB road wants it dotted and ribbed
By: Surender Sharma
Sex workers in Delhi's only red light district demand luxury condoms over Nirodh. It hurts, they complain
It is no longer just business at Garstin Bastion (GB) Road. The inhabitants of Delhi's only red light district are demanding pleasure too.
About 5,000 sex workers in 25 buildings in the area have made a representation to the Delhi government demanding they be provided luxury brand of condoms.
In a letter to Delhi Health Minister Kiran Walia, a copy of which is available with MiD DAY, the Bhartiya Patita Uddhar Sabha an NGO working for the welfare of sex workers has asked for improved condoms instead of Nirodh that are supplied now by the Delhi State AIDS Control Society (DSACS).
Smooth enough? A man checks out a condom at a condom vending machine
They claim that Nirodh, a product of Hindustan Latex Ltd, is of low quality and often bursts during intercourse.
This exposes them to the danger of HIV/AIDS. "Nirodh comes with very less lubrication which causes pain to the sex worker.
Therefore, good quality luxury condoms with better lubrication should be provided to them," the letter said.
The Delhi government has taken cognisance of the letter and written to the Project Director (AIDS) to take "further necessary action."
DSACS Director Dr BS Banerjee told MiD DAY that he was not aware of such a demand, but it may be considered.
"If any such demand comes up we will take up the matter with the National Aids Control Organisation as we get the supply of contraceptives from them. We are regularly providing condoms to the kothas," Dr Banerjee said.
Officials in the health ministry confirmed the receipt of the letter and said that the demand has been deliberated upon. "However, no decision has been taken yet," a senior health ministry officer said.
Khairati Lal Bhola, President of the Bhartiya Patita Uddhar Sabha, said: "As the sex workers cannot afford luxury condoms, the government should provide it as it would help in making their livelihood better."
Pain, no gain
The sex workers are provided with two or three packets of Nirodh condoms every second or third day by the NGOs authorised by the DSACS. Generally a sex worker uses 10-15 condoms each day.
"Nirodh condoms are less lubricated as compared to luxury ones. During sex, we experience a lot of pain," said Leelavati, a sex worker at GB Road.
"These condoms are very unsafe. It can lead to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. A lot of times we develop allergies in genitals after using such condoms," another sex worker Sabeena added.
Sex workers also complain that using bad quality condoms is affecting their business. "Customers often complain they did not get pleasure while having sex.
But, I cannot afford good quality condoms, which have better lubrication and enhance pleasure. A number of my clients are moving to other kothas," said Ramkali.
Young and rich clients who throng Kotha no 64 and 65 have started carrying condoms of renowned brands by themselves.
"Earlier I was using condoms provided by the government but I myself did not enjoy having sex with it and customers also complained of lack of pleasure.
Customers are more satisfied when we use dotted condoms. So do we. A few shopkeepers in this area buy them in bulk and we get them at cheaper rates," said Rekha, another sex worker.
The sex workers also claim that the NGOs responsible for distributing condoms fudge accounts to claim more money from the government.
In the early 1990s, three cases of sexually transmitted diseases were reported from GB Road. The National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) was directly supplying condoms to the sex workers in the area. Under pressure from the World Health Organisation, NACO started supplying luxury brands of condoms in the area from 1994 to 1996.