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In Europe, abortion foes heighten efforts, gain traction
Shifting social policies debated in some countries
By Elisabeth Rosenthal, International Herald Tribune | July 31, 2005
WARSAW -- For most of July, pedestrians in the Polish city of Lodz found themselves face-to-face with 14 grisly billboards pairing images of aborted fetuses with photographs of blood-spattered corpses -- victims of genocide in Srebrenica or Rwanda, toddlers killed in the Oklahoma City bombing attack.
Placed by a Polish antiabortion group, the traveling exhibition, which has moved on to Lublin, personifies an aggressive, well-financed, and growing conservative movement across Europe that not only opposes abortion, but also contraception, sex education, artificial insemination, and gay rights.
Encouraged by the Roman Catholic Church, enabled by the election of conservative governments in many countries, and financed in part by antiabortion groups in the United States, the movement has made powerful inroads in countries where a full array of women's health services were once taken for granted.
These include Poland, Italy, Slovakia, Lithuania, and the Netherlands, where the new Christian Democratic secretary of health has suggested a review of that country's liberal abortion law.
''It's gotten worse in many places over the last two to three years as more Christian Democrat and conservative governments have come to power," said Rebecca Gomperts, founder of the Dutch abortion-rights group Women on Waves.
For example, Anna Zaborska of Slovakia, the new chairwoman of the European Parliament Committee for Women's Rights and Gender Equality, opposes abortion.
''Antiabortion groups have become much more active and successful at influencing public opinion, and they have money and the mobilizing power of the church behind them," Gomperts said.
The consequences are varied but perhaps nowhere more dramatic than in Poland, where abortion was free and freely accessible under Communism. Today, a relatively restrictive abortion law (which refers to the fetus as a ''conceived child"), coupled with strong social stigma and an antiabortion stance among doctors' groups, has led to a situation in which only 174 legal abortions were performed nationwide in 2004 -- and tens of thousands of illegal abortions were carried out, according to the Polish Ministry of Health.
In Poland, the battle is so intense that the country's leading gynecology journal recently refused to publish the World Health Organization's guidelines on ''Safe Practices in Abortion," calling them ''reprehensible."
''Abortion is not safe because a patient who undergoes such treatment always dies," wrote Andrzej Barcz, editor of Practical Medicine-Obstetrics and Gynecology.
International antiabortion groups point out that their influence in Europe -- where abortion has popular support and is generally available -- is still much weaker than in the United States or Latin America. But they are thrilled with the new activity.
''There are now a lot of prolife groups working in Europe, but they are fairly young, formed in the last five or 10 years," said Joseph Meaney, international director of Human Life International, a powerful Catholic antiabortion group based in Virginia.
In France and Italy, youth groups are now lecturing in schools and organizing marches, promoting abstinence and an antiabortion message.
Meaney said this was due, in part, to the ''John Paul II effect," noting that the charismatic late pope, who held appeal for youth, had strongly opposed abortion and contraception.
In Europe, only Ireland, Portugal, Malta, and Poland have strict legal limits on abortion. But many countries that permit abortion are considering new limits on the practice or are restricting payment for both abortion and contraception by national health plans. As in the United States, access to the procedure is also increasingly limited by taboos, costs for patients, and the objections or fears of doctors.
In Poland, the law permits abortion if the woman's health is in danger or if genetic defects have been detected in the fetus. But, said Wanda Nowicka, head of the Federation for Women and Family Planning in Warsaw, ''There is now almost no condition that would allow you to get an abortion here."
Her group is currently bringing a lawsuit on behalf of a woman who is nearly blind because doctors refused to allow her to abort when she fell ill during pregnancy.
Nowicka said 80,000 to 200,000 illegal abortions are performed in Poland every year.
''This country is not conservative, but reproductive health has become highly politicized and stigmatized in the last few years," Nowicka said.
The same trend is apparent in many European countries, with only a few bucking the trend, among them Spain, a Catholic country with a Socialist government.
The Catholic Church has been particularly influential in former Eastern Bloc countries, where it made rapid gains after Communism collapsed more than a decade ago.
Croatia and Slovakia, for example, signed treaties with the Vatican that give the church influence on school curriculums, including sex education. In Slovakia, where abortion is legal, Christian antiabortion supporters mark March 25 as the ''Day of the Conceived Child."
But many also cite global political trends, such as the Bush administration's decision to promote abstinence as the preferred form of birth control.
''Those who oppose a woman's choice have become stronger and louder because the international atmosphere supports them," said Esmeralda Kuliesyte of Lithuania, who leads the Family Planning and Sexual Health Association in Vilnius.
水／地平線（すいへいせん／ちへいせん）「薬物去勢」支持される理由 コロンビア 和泉聡 (朝日 2005/07/31朝刊国際面)
An Employee, Hired as a Man, Becomes a Woman. Now What?
By KELLY PATE DWYER
Published: July 31, 2005 - New York Times
Kim Dower's employer let her wear women's clothes after her doctor wrote a letter.
Acing the Interview
Nick Warnock, a contestant on the television show "The Apprentice," talks about the interview process.
On a recent Wednesday, Kim Dower, a Denver pharmacist, arrived at her job of 10 years wearing a cream chiffon blouse, long crepe skirt and black flats.
It was an ordinary day, except that the day before she'd come to work dressed as a man.
Ms. Dower, 51, is a biological male in transition to becoming female.
In the spring of 2004, she told her bosses she wanted to start dressing as a woman, and they said no. She filed discrimination charges against the company, King Soopers, a subsidiary of the Kroger Company, based in Cincinnati. Lawyers were called in and mediation talks were held.
In 2005, Ms. Dower testified before the Colorado State Legislature in support of a proposal that would have banned discrimination based on sexual orientation or sexual identity. The measure passed; the governor vetoed it.
But Ms. Dower, in women's clothes, still has her job.
Although Kroger, like most employers, does not mention transgender people in its antidiscrimination policies, a number of large employers have recently added protections for them.
More legal protections are being added, too. Twenty-eight percent of the population is now covered by laws in cities, states or other jurisdictions that prohibit discrimination against transgender people, up from about 5 percent at the end of 2001, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality in Washington. And lawmakers are debating the issue at the national level. This growing national dialogue is focusing attention on a delicate and often confusing human resource issue.
"It's created some vexing problems for the employer, of respecting the rights of the employee in question and dealing with the employee morale, fears, tensions of co-workers," said Gerald L. Maatman Jr., a Chicago lawyer who has represented employers in five cases involving transsexual employees.
"Transgender" is the broad term covering people who express themselves in the opposite sex, including cross-dressers and transsexuals.
Transsexuals live as the opposite sex, and may opt for hormone therapy and surgery. Doctors generally require transsexuals to dress as their desired sex for a year - at home, at work, everywhere - before surgery.
Even though many employers may never need to deal with the issue of a transgender employee, specialists suggest preparing for the possibility. Mr. Maatman advises clients to make sure their policies at least match the laws in places where they operate.
What restroom will the employee use? Will co-workers and customers feel uncomfortable when John becomes Jane?
The workplace is typically the last place a transsexual "comes out." That's the way it was for Ms. Dower.
As a boy, then a man, she hated herself for feeling female, she said. Only a few years ago, after psychological counseling failed to conquer that feeling, did she consider a sex change - shocking her wife and their adult children.
When Ms. Dower first asked to wear female attire, the company requested access to her medical records. She shared some, and her doctor later wrote the company a letter attesting to her plans for surgery.
Gary Rhodes, a Kroger spokesman, said that after King Soopers received letters from her doctors in May, it granted Ms. Dower's request to dress as a woman at work. Managers asked her to use one of two single-toilet restrooms and told her to report to them if anyone treated her badly, Ms. Dower said.
Customers and co-workers have mostly shown support, but Ms. Dower said she resented that the company initially questioned her choice and commitment. "Who else has to prove who they are?" Ms. Dower asked.
Twice as many Fortune 500 companies had sexual identity in their nondiscrimination policies at the end of 2004 as did a year earlier, according to the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group in Washington.
ChevronTexaco, Ernst & Young, Merrill Lynch, Microsoft, Toys "R" Us and Viacom have added sexual identity to their policies this year.
Corporate America may in part be responding to a Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in 2004 that found that a transsexual firefighter in Salem, Ohio, was a victim of sex discrimination.
But big business has other reasons for making changes. Employees "put a name and face and a story" to a policy issue, said Joe Solmonese, president of the Society of Human Resource Management. .
At Ernst & Young, a gay and transgender employees' group approached the human resources department. "They said 'this is the next frontier' " for discrimination protections, said Maryella Gockel, the company's flexibility strategy leader.
At the Intel Corporation, the company not only has policies that protect transgender workers from discrimination, it has specific guidelines for supporting them, said Pferron L. Doss, a human resources official with Intel in Hillsboro, Ore., who has handled seven cases of sex transition at work.
When approached by transgender employees, he asks what support they need; co-workers are then informed and educated about working with them through the transition.
"I think there's initially a fear of the unknown," Mr. Doss said. "An employee may accidentally say 'he' instead of 'she.' That's part of the educational piece, and you catch yourself and you apologize."
Transgender employees use the restroom of their target sex after a name change and change in dress. A switch in showering facilities follows surgery.
A few co-workers have filed complaints based on their religious beliefs, Mr. Doss said, but no serious problems have resulted.
In addition to 6 states, 74 local jurisdictions, including New York City and the District of Columbia, protect sexual identity and expression. Advocates are pushing for a federal law.
Last year, the Human Rights Campaign in Washington said it would support a federal law that bans discrimination based on sexual orientation only if it also bans discrimination based on sexual identity and expression.
"It's become clear we can only win equality if we fight together," said a spokesman for the group, Jay Smith Brown, a female-to-male transsexual.
Even as advocacy groups push for policy changes, they note that culture is playing a part in changing public attitudes.
Jeffrey Eugenides's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "Middlesex" and the Tony award-winning "I Am My Own Wife," based on the life of the German transsexual Charlotte von Mahlsdorf - have helped dispel perceptions of transgender people as "freaks on Jerry Springer," as Mr. Brown puts it.
Senator Frist's Stem Cell Shift
Published: July 30, 2005 - New York Times
The Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, deserves credit for moving gingerly toward a more expansive policy on stem cell research. Mr. Frist - the transplant-surgeon-turned-lawmaker who was last seen catering to religious conservatives by questioning whether Terri Schiavo was really in a persistent vegetative state - showed courage and common sense yesterday by endorsing a bill to expand federal financing for embryonic stem cell research. Such research has the potential to provide cures for a range of diseases someday, but it is anathema to the religious right because the stem cells are extracted from microscopic embryos that are destroyed in the process.
Mr. Frist is thus in some danger of alienating a powerful segment of the Republican political base. His stance will also put him at odds with President Bush, who is threatening to veto the measure, but it may enhance his appeal to moderates if he decides to run for president.
Although no federal law bans embryonic stem cell research, federal financing for the research has strict limits, which threaten to slow the development of this highly promising field. Although critics often contend that advances with adult stem cells make research on embryonic stem cells unnecessary, it is notable that Mr. Frist, a physician and a researcher by training, disagrees. He described embryonic stem cells as "uniquely powerful" because they have the capacity to develop into any kind of tissue in the body, potentially enabling them to meet medical needs that adult stem cells cannot.
Under a policy announced by Mr. Bush four years ago, federal money can be used to finance research on only some 22 stem cell lines that had been derived from surplus embryos at fertility clinics before the time of his announcement. Unfortunately, those lines are deteriorating and are potentially contaminated with mouse viruses, limiting their usefulness. A bill approved by the House and pending in the Senate would enlarge the pool by including stem cells from additional surplus embryos that had been donated by fertility clinic patients who would otherwise discard them. Mr. Frist had been supporting the president's policy, but he now plans to support the pending bill, with some reservations.
That is a step forward, but a pathetically small one. The bill would not allow financing for the most promising kind of stem cell research, known as therapeutic cloning, which involves the creation of embryos genetically matched to patients with particular diseases. Even so, the Senate should approve this modest move forward, preferably by a margin large enough to override a presidential veto.
I N S I G H T S T O R Y
The great morality debate
31 July 2005 - stuff.co.nz
Has Labour lost touch with the values of middle New Zealand? And if so, will voters punish them for it? Ruth Laugesen reports.
Among the fast crowd in our own Sin City, Auckland, being unmasked as a prostitute no longer spells the end to a social life.
In fact, it will probably enhance it, says Sunday Star-Times social columnist Bridget Saunders. "Sadly, it's kind of got this radical chic. It's not this shameful thing it once was.
"I think we are going downhill with sexual morality," says Saunders, "at least in the short term. But down the track, I think there will be a reaction."
Sexual displays that were once beyond the pale are considered fun and raunchy. Transsexual MP Georgina Beyer, who once worked the streets, has not only won election to parliament, but was snapped up for TVNZ's Dancing with the Stars.
But is famously liberal and tolerant New Zealand getting fed up with its own broadmindedness? And, with an election looming, does it feel that the Labour-led government has got too PC to be tolerated?
In these times, says emeritus professor of religious studies Lloyd Geering, there are no widely agreed-upon moral absolutes any more. Our moral codes are shifting and it isn't always clear what is right and what is wrong.
At one end are liberals, who say anything goes as long as you don't hurt anyone else. And at the other are religious conservatives, such as Destiny's Brian Tamaki, who point to moral laws laid down by the Old Testament. In between is the all-important middle ground that wins elections.
Opposition politicians believe that by leading the charge on new laws legalising prostitution and allowing civil union for gay couples, Labour may have overreached its liberal agenda of minority rights and alienated key voters. And it isn't just the votes of conservative Christians at stake.
There are signs of irritation even among middle-of-the-road suburban voters at Labour's agenda of social change. Some of that resentment finds its form in a "what about me" feeling that Labour has put too much energy into the rights of marginalised groups, such as gays, and not enough into the concerns of mum, dad and the kids. Others are reacting to Labour's own version of moralising - finger-wagging moves such as banning smoking in bars or the discussion of a ban on smacking.
"I think there will be quite a few voters who think that Labour's social agenda has gone too far and is out of kilter with what the mainstream thinks," says Auckland University professor of politics Barry Gustafson. "There are some who are quite genuine in their concern that the agenda has been taken over by people whose values and priorities are different, and they're going to fight back."
So when bad boy Labour MP John Tamihere pilloried Labour for being too PC, many of the public whooped in agreement. Six out of 10 of those polled in a 3 News/NS poll in April agreed with Tamihere that Labour was "too politically correct".
In America, moral issues stomp all over the political arena. In last year's election the Christian right was crucial in delivering George W Bush a second term, with gay marriage and abortion important election issues. In Australia, politicians are increasingly aware of a well-organised Christian vote.
But in secular, liberal New Zealand, moral issues come with a small "m". Few voters cast their ballot solely on moral issues. Instead, the moral dimension is important in helping shape the way parties and leaders are seen.
Victoria University political scientist Nigel Roberts who, with colleagues, has polled voters all the way back to 1972, says voters have consistently failed to put moral issues on their list of election issues, even in the years when abortion and the Springbok tour dominated debate.
"It's always been a case of the dog that didn't bark in the night," says Roberts.
But, in this year's election, "I do think it's one of the bundle of straws that's been loaded on to voters".
He sees the Budget as having been the final straw in turning the mood against Labour, a Budget that was seen as parsimonious to the point of almost being insulting. "But add to that banning smokers from bars, added to gay rights and things like that, the cumulative effect of those issues is likely to leave people disillusioned with Labour," says Roberts.
This election, a whole variety of parties will make moral appeals, either directly or in a coded form.
The most noticeable shift has been that of National leader Don Brash, an instinctive liberal who in 2003 was one of only six National MPs who voted in favour of legalising prostitution. By last year, Brash had moved to a more conservative position, withdrawing his support for civil union legislation when it came to its final reading.
That repositioning has allowed Brash to pitch himself as a leader for the "mainstream". He accuses Prime Minister Helen Clark of running a government that is not of, or for, the mainstream. Pressed in a radio interview on just what he meant, Brash said he did not believe gays, Maori, or prostitutes or their clients were part of the mainstream. He later tried to backtrack on the comments.
Brian Tamaki's Destiny Church, with its strong pro-family, anti-homosexual message, will also make a political showing this election in the form of Destiny New Zealand.
Winston Peters' New Zealand First also has a moral dimension, with a core message that rejects political correctness and the parliamentary time and effort put into legislation such as the Civil Union bill.
United Future and its leader Peter Dunne aim to embody the appeal of the conventional suburban family. The Greens set out their moral agenda, which is one of tolerance and protection of the environment. Act's moral stance emphasises the uprightness of hard work and self-reliance, and decries bludgers.
Tariana Turia's Maori Party has a moral framework that emphasises Maori's moral right to sovereignty and self-determination, within a setting of traditional tribal values.
Labour's moral appeal has been one of tolerance and inclusiveness. But over the past year it made its own play for the family values vote with its big Working for Families package and with its flying babies billboard. But these appeals to home and hearth have been undercut by other messages, such as Clark's urging earlier in the year for mothers to go out to work.
Striking the right note on these values issues has its perils in the New Zealand electorate. It is an electorate which is broadly liberal, yet one which now seems to feel that liberalism has been pushed too far.
At the same time, any politician pushing for the extreme conservative vote has to be careful not to alienate the broad public. And, as always with moral issues, those who judge come in for harsher judgements themselves.
Brash last year pulled the conservative moral card on Clark, accusing her of atheism, commenting on her abandonment of grace at state functions and "her indifference to the institution of marriage". The attack rebounded on him when Clark observed that her 26-year marriage perhaps set a better example than Brash's divorce and remarriage. As a result, Brash was forced to admit he had had an affair with the woman who is now his second wife, Je Lan.
In New Zealand the hard religious right vote appears to be small - only 10% of New Zealanders believe every word of the Bible is literally true, according to a 1998 polling by Massey University. But to say moral issues are the preserve of extremists, such as those in the Destiny Church, says Victoria University professor of religious affairs Paul Morris, is to "miss the force and real purchase these morally conservative ideas do have, in the broader electorate".
Already, says Morris, Destiny has made it more acceptable to debate the rightness of homosexuality, an issue which many thought was off the agenda for good. What we are seeing, he says, may be an echo of the strengthening of moral conservatism seen in the recent Australian and US elections.
Australian Clive Hamilton, head of the Australia Institute and author of the book Affluenza, says there is a broad disquiet over moral issues in Western society that is waiting to be unlocked by politicians who can find the right language.
He says the liberal movements of the 1960s and 70s have left us with a baby boomer generation that is reluctant to take a moral stance on a range of issues, for fear of being seen as judgemental.
Hamilton, who supports civil unions for gays and legalisation of prostitution, says there are other important moral issues that progressive thinkers should pick up. One is to acknowledge the importance of the family and the raising of children, and not just in a narrow traditional setting.
He thinks the left should also be concerned by the rise by the commodification of sex and sexuality by advertisers, in such a way that it permeates our lives and is difficult for children and young people to avoid. And he is worried by the easy availability of extreme pornography on the internet to teenagers.
"I think there's a deep disquiet out there in the community about a lot of this stuff. But it's uncool to object, it means you've got a hang-up or you're just an old prude," says Hamilton.
Geering says what we are seeing now is a vacuum where once there were moral certainties.
"In the past, moral issues were thought to be determined by reference to absolute standards, many of them thought to be in the Bible. It was an open and shut case.
"In the 20th century we came to see there are no absolutes, only guidelines, and it's left up to society in general and to individuals in particular to work out their answers or solutions to all moral problems. That, of course, is difficult because it makes much more demands than the old traditional system did.
"I think society is slowly waking up to the fact that we're in that situation."
米メーガン法、登録抹消期に――消えゆく性犯罪者情報（世界いまを刻む） (日本経済 2005/07/31朝刊)
米共和党上院院内総務、ＥＳ細胞研究の拡大を支持 (ロイター 2005/07/30)
［ワシントン ２９日 ロイター］ フリスト米共和党上院院内総務は２９日、連邦予算で行う胚性幹細胞（ＥＳ細胞）研究を拡大する法案に支持を表明した。
米上院の共和党リーダー、ＥＳ細胞研究で大統領に反旗 (日本経済 2005/07/30)
与党トップが大統領に反旗 万能細胞で、米政権に打撃 (共同 2005/07/30)
Senate leader backs expanded stem cell research
By Joanne Kenen
Fri Jul 29, 3:58 PM ET - Reuters
In a rare break with President Bush and anti-abortion conservatives, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist on Friday endorsed legislation that would expand federally funded embryonic stem cell research.
Frist, a Tennessee Republican and surgeon who may seek his party's presidential nomination in 2008, endorsed a bill already passed by the U.S. House of Representatives that would overturn the limits on the research Bush imposed in 2001.
His backing, which could alienate the most staunchly anti-abortion conservatives but attract support from moderates in a potential White House bid, significantly improves chances of the legislation passing.
Bush has vowed to veto the legislation because embryos are destroyed when the stem cells are extracted.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Bush had not wavered in his moral opposition to the research but when Frist informed him of his decision by telephone on Thursday night, the president told him, "You've got to vote your conscience."
Patients suffering from diabetes, Parkinson's disease, spinal cord injuries and other debilitating and life-threatening disorders have been clamoring for more federal dollars for stem cell research. Opinion polls show growing support for its expansion, even among many conservatives like Frist who generally oppose abortion.
"I am pro life, I believe human life begins at conception," Frist said in a Senate speech. "I also believe that embryonic stem cell research should be encouraged and supported."
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and other House conservatives called on Bush to stick to his pledge to veto the bill. DeLay, a Texas Republican, likened "destructive embryonic stem cell research" to abortion and euthanasia.
The bill, approved in the House and likely to come up in the Senate after the August recess, would allow federally funded research on stem cells derived from leftover embryos in fertility clinics. There are currently about 400,000 such frozen embryos, many of which will otherwise be destroyed.
Frist said he wanted to see some relatively minor changes in the bill, but the legislation's authors said his concerns would not complicate or delay passage.
Word of Frist's decision sent shares of companies involved in the field sharply higher.
DIVERSE SUPPORT FOR RESEARCH
Backers of the expanded research were jubilant that Frist had thrown his political and scientific weight behind them.
"It's an earthquake," said Pennsylvania Republican Arlen Specter, a cancer patient who sometimes carries an hourglass with him to stress the need to hasten the research.
"My heart really jumped," said an elated California Democrat Dianne Feinstein.
Frist has been a staunch ally of Bush's and has generally hewed to a conservative, anti-abortion line as Senate leader. He championed broader stem cell research in July 2001 -- but then endorsed the strict limits Bush imposed a month later.
Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, warned that Frist cannot "turn around and expect widespread endorsement from the pro-life community if he should decide to run for president in 2008."
But the moderate Republican Main Street Partnership praised Frist. A group called StemPAC stopped airing an anti-Frist television ad in the key presidential primary state of New Hampshire.
Frist's image as a doctor-politician was marred during the Senate fight last March over the Terri Schiavo case, when he appeared to diagnose the brain-damaged Florida woman on the Senate floor based on a video clip on the Internet.
On stem cells, Frist said he had concluded that Bush's limits were no longer suitable given the promise of the research. The research, he said, holds out too much hope.
At the time Bush set the policy, it was believed that 78 stem cell lines would be available to scientists. In fact there are only 22, and they are poor quality and contaminated with mouse cells.
Expanded cell research is supported by an ideologically, religiously and geographically diverse group, including liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats, Catholics, Protestants, Mormons and Jews. Lead sponsors in the Senate include strongly anti-abortion Republicans Orrin Hatch of Utah and Gordon Smith of Oregon.
Among the bills most prominent supporters is former first lady Nancy Reagan, whose husband, former President Ronald Reagan, died of Alzheimer's in June 2004. She issued a statement saying, "Thank you Dr. Frist for standing up for America's patients."
India to Fight AIDS With Female Condoms
By S.SRINIVASAN, Associated Press Writer
Fri Jul 29, 8:36 PM ET
India will introduce female condoms later this year to help fight the spread of AIDS among its billion-plus population, with cheap supplies available to commercial sex workers, the state-owned contraceptive maker said Friday.
"Female condoms will empower the woman to protect herself from infection," M. Ayyappan, managing director of Hindustan Latex Ltd. told The Associated Press.
A government study in 2004 showed that despite annual sales of 1.6 billion male condoms, cases of HIV in India had reached 5.1 million, second only to South Africa, and that a third of them were women.
According to the study, 15 percent of cases were sex workers and another 22 percent housewives with a single partner.
Ayyappan said some male clients resisted using condoms when they visited sex workers which was one reason why the government's strategy to promote male condoms as the primary protection against infection had achieved only limited success.
"Female condoms will transfer the power of decision-making to women," Ayyappan said.
He said the company's aim was to provide every sex worker with the right to use a condom every time with every client.
HLL will initially import condoms from the London factory of Chicago-based Female Health Co. and start selling them in September, Ayyappan said, without detailing how many would be imported. He said the company would start manufacturing their own condoms at a later date.
A female condom is a lubricated shield that is slipped, closed-end first, into the vagina. The open end remains outside, partially covering the labia.
While a yearlong study funded by the two companies showed that 94 percent of sex workers polled liked and wanted to use the female condom, Ayyappan said one of the difficulties in promoting it would be price.
It will cost the company about $1 to import one condom, while marketing and distribution will add another $1.3, he said.
India's Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has agreed to support the new product as part of the National AIDS Control Program and is considering a subsidy to bring down the price to 12 cents for commercial sex workers.
A typical sex worker gets anywhere between $1 and $23 per client although most women's earnings are nearer the lower end of the range.
Female condoms will also be available over the counter for $2.3 each.
Chandrasekhar Gowda, who heads a non governmental project teaching sex workers how to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, said that sex workers needed more than just a condom.
"The female condom will give woman a choice. She will no longer be dependent on the man's decision," Gowda said.
"But it can be fully successful only if sex workers are able to negotiate the use of condom with their clients. We must work to increase the negotiating power of sex workers so that men come to accept female condoms. "
On the Net:
Hindustan Latex: http://www.hindlatex.com
Female Health Co.: http://www.femalehealth.com
ポスト「エイズ国際会議」 路上の詩人が啓発 (神戸新聞 2005/07/30)