A young Kenyan man walks towards a pharmacy to buy condoms.
He first peeps to ensure there are no customers in the shop, he takes a deep breath before entering the pharmacy. For a moment he looks confused, ensure about what he wants.
He gathers some courage and points towards his favourite brand of condoms.
'Give me those ones' he whispers.
The pharmacist immediately knows what he's talking about, but before he gets the condoms, another customer enters.
A moment of silence.
The young man then requests the pharmacist to serve the other customer first, not because he is kind but because he’s buying condoms and is a bit embarassed.
Now the young man has to look over his shoulder in case another customer enters the shop.
He gets his condoms, hides them in his pockets and and leaves hurriedly. You would think he just robbed the pharmacy.
This young man is like many Kenyans. They are ashamed about buying condoms.
One other hilarious thing that people do is that they end up buying things they had no intention of buying - just so there’s little attention drawn to the condoms.
For others, it is safer to go to pharmacies that are far away from their houses to buy condoms so that no one knows they plan to have sex.
Why are people ashamed?
- Sex is generally perceived as an evil act. That's why any talk or act that is sex-related is not welcome. That's also why some will only have sex in total darkness or while half-naked.
- Somehow, buying condoms is the shortest transaction you will ever see. There will never be delays because even some sellers are embarrassed, for themselves and for you.
- Since some pharmacists are ashamed, they may give you a weird look. This makes the entire transaction awkward.
- Buying condoms is often viewed as an announcement that you are going to have sex. The negative perception and cultural attitude towards sex encourage this.
- There is a popular belief that condoms are for people having casual sex since people in long-term relationships use long-term contraception.
- Many women are afraid of being slut-shamed. The responsibility of buying condoms is often left to men. Some women are not even aware of the condom varieties available.
How do we stop this?
Anyone buying condoms is a responsible adult. It is a normal part of having a responsible sex life. That's how we need to start interpreting this. No one should ever feel the need to be discreet when buying condoms.
Sexual promiscuity has been associated with the use of condoms. Buying condoms doesn't make you promiscuous, but even if you are, it's great that you are protecting yourself and your partners.
Pharmacies need to ensure that their staff are well trained to understand that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with buying packs of condoms. They should know not to stare weirdly at the people buying the condoms as this creates an environment that is unsuitable generally for everyone.
In case you're still afraid, you can start small by first opting for new alternatives such as government hospitals facilities, Marie Stopes clinics or request for delivery. Gain your confidence and then start buying them from pharmacies.
Are you still shamed of buying condoms?