Rubber Penis to Spread Awareness About Family Planning Sparks Outrage in Rural India

© Photo : YouTube/LIVE UPDATE Maharashtra: Rubber penis in family planning kit sparks row
Maharashtra: Rubber penis in family planning kit sparks row - Sputnik International, 1920, 24.03.2022
The Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA), also known as healthcare workers or frontline workers, are generally assigned the task of door-to-door counselling, providing medicines, vaccines, in rural India.
A rubber penis used by Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) workers to spread awareness about family planning in villages of the Indian state of Maharashtra has triggered outrage among villagers and politicians in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Men from Buldhana district in Maharashtra even accused ASHA workers of corrupting their wives when they used a rubber penis to demonstrate how a condom is used.

Last week, nearly 25,000 family planning kits, including model penises, were distributed throughout the state to ASHA workers. They were asked to spread awareness of family planning.
An ASHA worker told The Indian Express that as soon as they take out the model, family members, especially men, take offence.

“They call us shameless and say that we are corrupting their wives,” she added. BJP’s vice-president in Maharashtra, Chitra Wagh, claimed that the government was promoting “sexual indulgence”.

At present, the state is governed by the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) or Maharashtra Development Front, an alliance comprising Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party, and Congress. The BJP is the main opposition.
Another BJP legislator, Akash Bhundkar, demanded that the state government apologise to the healthcare workers for having caused them "embarrassment".
A Mumbai-based ASHA worker, Rekha Nanda, told Sputnik that these kinds of models have already been used elsewhere to spread awareness about family planning but that it is only this time that they have provoked such sharp criticism.
Nanda added that "in most other places there had been no outrage at all - it was just in one district, Buldhana, that there was indignation - and some from Nashik district too.”
Nanda said that there had only been a few ASHA workers who were embarrassed by the incident and that most of them are still willing to reach out to villagers to speak about family planning.

Citing the reason for the backlash faced by ASHA workers, Nanda said: "Most of the ASHA workers live near the villages where they are assigned so they are known to everyone. Therefore, some people may feel embarrassed to talk about their sex life and sexual health with a person they know.”

The state government has not issued any statement about the issue but the BJP has demanded that the family kits containing a rubber penis be withdrawn.
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