CARACAS, Venezuela, — An official with the Venezuelan bishops’ conference has warned that a proposal by the country’s president to establish condom factories will entail a huge “social cost” for the nation’s youth.
“Installing a condom factory in Venezuela at best will lower the cost of a product, but at a great social cost,” Jose Villamizar, education director for the bishops’ conference of Venezuela, said June 9.
On June 6, Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro announced the installation of “a group of factories here to produce millions of condoms” and charged the movement Young People for the Homeland with distributing the condoms and “shielding the country from unwanted pregnancies.”
Villamizar said that sexuality is often confused with only “one of its components,” the genital expression. “To reduce sexuality to just the genital dimension is to strip it of its essence, as its components are biological, psychological, social and spiritual,” he explained.
Condoms are the most popular form of contraception, but people do not realize “that sexual education begins at the moment of birth and continues throughout one’s life,” he said.
Young people can be taught quickly to use a condom, but “in doing so, the other components, which are more important, are being overlooked.”
While the use of a condom can be easily taught, a more comprehensive and humanistic sexual education “begins at the moment of birth and continues throughout one’s life,” reflected Villamizar.
“A young girl may know very well how to use a condom, yet she may be the object of constant abuse of every kind by her partner.”
By presenting condoms as a safe method for engaging in sexual relations without fear of pregnancy or sexually-transmitted diseases, Maduro’s campaign sends the message to young people that “sex is merely for recreation, for relieving stress,” Villamizar said.
“The truth is, condoms are not 100% effective” and they do not protect against HIV, he continued.
“By not being informed about the real risks they are taking, in many cases young people are playing ‘Russian roulette’ and most of the time they don’t come away unharmed.”
“The more promiscuity there is, the greater the chance of becoming pregnant or getting an STD,” Villamizar said.
The educational programs sponsored by the government should be focused “on the human person” and on promoting “self-esteem, assertiveness, communication, peer-pressure awareness, courtship and marriage, critical analysis of the messages in the media, control of one’s emotions and planning one’s life.”
“All of this requires political will,” Villamizar said, warning that officials must “accept that teen pregnancies and sexually-transmitted diseases are just the tip of the iceberg.” Underneath all of this is “a lack of love; selfishness, despair, irresponsibility ... seeing others as an object of pleasure and not as a human being.”
Sexual education “should attack these roots,” so that “we can have people who are more responsible towards themselves, towards those around them and towards society,” said Villamizar.
“Thus the rate of teen pregnancies and STDs will significantly decrease.”