Treasure Tabor | Contributing Writer
This past December, Venezuela started to experience a condom shortage due to import restrictions. The Center for Biological Diversity has donated more than 12,000 free condoms from their Endangered Species Condom project in order to alleviate this issue.
“The condom shortage may have started as an economic policy issue, but when contraception is unavailable, it becomes a threat to public health, reproductive rights, families, and biodiversity,” said Stephanie Feldstein, population and sustainability director at the Center. “While 12,000 condoms won’t be able to meet the country’s need, we hope it will help draw attention to the urgency of the situation in Venezuela.”
Public health workers fear that the shortage could not only threaten prevention programs, but also increase Venezuela’s rates of teen pregnancy and HIV. Venezuela has the second highest rate of teen pregnancy in Latin America behind Guyana. Termination of a pregnancy is not much of an option for teens due to Venezuela’s strict abortion law. Unless the pregnancy “threatens the life of the pregnant woman,” it is illegal in the country.
The shortage has gotten so bad that Venezuelan residents have resorted to buying condoms online. The prices have been as high as $755. After reading reports of this crisis, Barbara Lee, author of Sacred Sex and advocate of healthy sex education, reached out to the Center and helped raised money to ship condoms. She also connected the Center with Dr. Fernando Bianco, a Venezuelan health advocate of the Civil Association of Clinical Psychiatry, to distribute the condoms to local health and family planning clinics in need.
“Our foundation wants to express its word of recognition and appreciation for the donation of such a large amount of condoms for free distribution in our sex clinics and family-planning facilities here in Venezuela,” Dr. Bianco said in a statement. “We are in a desperate predicament now due to the deficit of birth control in our country, and we deeply appreciate this initiative and intervention.”
The Endangered Species Condom project emphasizes the relationship between human population growth, overconsumption, and wildlife extinction – as well as encouraging solutions such as universal access to birth control and family planning and education and empowerment of women and girls. Though 12,000 condoms may not be enough to fix the problem in Venezuela, it is a positive first step towards a solution.