I noticed last night a post floating through social media on how at an event in North South University, my alma mater, free condoms were distributed as an effort to raise awareness about AIDS. From the information that I could pick up, the event was organized in collaboration with or with support from UNICEF.
Of course, just the mere sight of condoms (free or not) has caused all hell to break loose. Social media is awash with posts from how everyone in NSU is a prostitute and how the university is a whore-house, to how that university has always been an immoral place. Worse, the university administration is now actively embracing those accolades and condoning the distribution of condoms to its students. As always, when a set of ill-informed individuals need to make judgemental opinions on social media, the whys, the hows, the whats and any context in general must be cleverly left out. So as a result, I’m struggling to understand what the big deal is. After all, isn’t AIDS a real thing, and isn’t it a good thing for people to be aware of how they can avoid getting AIDS? Aren’t these all full-grown adults (for a few this may be questionable), in the process of acquiring university degrees, who are presumably capable of consuming information and talking about grown-up topics like safe sex?
No, of course not. It’s far easier to stick our heads into the sand and pretend that talking about AIDS or safe sex is a ‘western’ thing, and those things just don’t happen ‘here’. Better yet, it’s more exciting to zero in on how much more sex NSU students will now be having, thanks to those free condoms.
Anyone who thinks that providing free condoms to NSU students is encouraging ‘immoral behaviour’ and pre-marital sex, do take your head out of that comfortable bubble of yours that you live in and take a look around. It’s not just NSU students that are possibly having sex; anyone who’s in university has probably considered it and has engaged in it when the opportunity presented itself. Young people in Bangladesh have been having sex – whether you know about it or not and whether you like it or not. In fact, young people in Bangladesh have been having sex long before NSU even came into existence. You think it’s just an urban thing, as a consequence of the decaying moral values of the urban society? Do yourselves a favor and pick up a bunch of old copies of JaiJaiDin’s ‘Bhaalobasha Shongkha’. People everywhere in Bangladesh are having sex – safe or not.
If just the idea of condoms gets you all uncomfortable and bothered, maybe you should be having sex. Don’t be that guy that spews outraged garbage on social media about how we’ve lost all our sense of morality, and goes home to his massive stash of secret porn or Bollywood raunchiness that he jacks off to every night. Or worse, don’t be that guy who gets sexual gratification from ‘accidentally’ rubbing up against women in crowded places or from making lewd comments about perfectly decently dressed female classmates at university.
Growing up in a conservative country, young people are already denied the opportunity to acquire sexual education through structured information dissemination. What we know are things we hear from our friends – save for that awkward Biology class where your teacher is trying to teach you facts without really talking about what it all means. The more you vilify the idea of talking about this openly, the more you encourage young people to learn about it from television and movies – often at the sake of being misinformed. As a result, sex is this evil, invisible thing that destroys morality. Lets start talking about it so it’s not just a debate about moral vs. immoral, but rather about how it is a normal biological phenomenon that will happen to everyone and most people will engage in it at some point or the other – even the moral ones.