Ngonidzashe Emmanuel Chikandiwa
FOR many, the ideal university and college atmosphere is one viewed as an “adult zone” and the doubt of whether a legion of students are sexually involved is demystified.
Basing on this “realisation”, the National Aids Council (NAC) and its partners have placed inordinate emphasis on provision of condoms in hostels, clinics or toilets and many other spots across tertiary campuses in Zimbabwe.
One brand of condoms, known by many names deriving mostly from its packaging — such as “maDembare”, “zvikiti”, “mbada” or “puma” and widely distributed — has become infamous among students.
Students have developed an attitude towards, and use of the brand for several reasons. According to the NAC 2017 survey report on HIV and AIDS in institutions of higher education in Zimbabwe students, at all institutions visited, expressed dissatisfaction over a particular brand of “ugly condoms”, distributed on campuses.
The point of discontent is over the condom’s aesthetics or scent and, consequently students do not use them. Students claim the condoms smell, are thin and made of less resilient material prone to bursts, apparently have no class and are generally smaller in size.
Students have almost abandoned their use and this has been a key driver of infections, among the risks of unprotected sex on campuses.
Another view among the student body is of the opinion that refusal to use these condoms exposes amateurs, especially among male students. For some female students, having sexual intercourse using this brand of condoms is “demeaning and devalues the female students”.
They argue, it is almost the same as debasing (cheapening) oneself, which treatment they say only befits commercial sex workers.
The “free condom” mentality has been a major reason, and many students ignorant of using the condom, stand the risk of contracting infections.
The romantic imagery, accompanying the marketing of other condom brands, flavoured and scented, for some has largely undermined the “panther condom”.
Despite these common perceptions among students, the “ugly condoms” come highly recommended and are instrumental in prevention of unwanted pregnancies, curbing the spread of HIV and AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
That said, let us face it, the “panther condom” continues to be distributed and myths will still persist amid returning students or the freshmen.