Guangdong Province's section of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions has prepared a batch of more than 1 million condoms to be given free to female migrant workers arriving from outside the South China province in the near future.
Yu Fen, director of the Women Workers Department of the Guangdong union body, said yesterday: "Despite the difficulties, we are determined to popularize the use of condoms among Guangdong's large number of female transient workers from outside.
"It is much better to encourage women workers to use condoms than to crack down on their sexual activity," Yu said.
The condoms will be delivered every year to women workers through trade union branches at all levels.
The condom decision was taken after a survey conducted last month by the Guangdong Family Planning Research Institute found that more than 50 per cent of women transient workers in Guangdong admitted to having a sexual relationship before marriage.
The figure topped 80 per cent among women from outside the province who are employed in the service sector. Some of the women workers said they had more than one sexual partner within a single year.
Guangdong now has more than 11 million women workers from outside the province. Most of them come from poor families in China's rural areas and are between 15 and 25 years old.
Yu said it would be impossible to force all transient women workers to wait until they were married before having sex.
Trade unions should protect the transient women workers, Yu added.
The union collected a million condoms thanks to government funding and donations from local condom manufacturers.
In previous years, government family-planning departments used to focus on offering condoms and related products to the staff of State-owned enterprise and to married couples, ignoring the large number of women workers in non-State companies and single personnel, who are in most need.
Yu said that, although condoms are inexpensive, most transient workers did not have the courage to buy condoms openly from a chemist's shop.
Zhu Jiaming, deputy director of the Guangdong Provincial Association of Sexology, said the introduction of condoms would help prevent AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases from spreading among the province's women workers.
Most of the transient women workers have a low awareness of how to prevent venereal diseases, Zhu said.
(China Daily November 14, 2002)