March 30, 2005

Condom Enforcement

I don't know a whole lot about Africa, and I certainly don't know a whole lot about stopping the spread of AIDS. But reading over Nick Kristof's column this morning on how the lack of decent condom policies in Africa has helped fuel the spread of AIDS, a quirky (and harsh) solution occurred to me. Why not make it illegal—punishable by jail time—for men to have sex without a condom, at least in their first encounter with a given partner?

Here in the U.S., I could see all sorts of problems with this sort of policy, not least in that it might make it harder for women to bring rape charges to court ("Yes, your honor, I was coerced into sex even though we, um, used a condom..." is a legitimate argument, but it might not carry water with everyone). But over in Africa, the problem seems so horrific that something drastic needs to happen. One prostitute told Kristof that "that truck drivers pay $1 for sex with a condom or $4 for sex without." Well, what if the price was upped to $4 plus a stint in prison? How many truck drivers would make that offer? Probably the sort of thing that would never pass into law, but still...
-- Brad Plumer 1:53 PM || ||