Court Rules Condoms Not Completely Safe, But Total Abstinence

Akinwale Akintunde

Justice Taofiquat Oyekan-Abdullahi of a Lagos High Court has said that condoms are not 100 per cent effective, and that total abstinence or faithfulness is the best option.

The Judge, in her considered judgement which was the outcome of the mutual agreement for the two parties to the suit, held that the respondent shall continue to insert the Health Risk Warning Clause of the APCON to wit: “Condom is not 100 per cent safe. Total abstinence or faithfulness is the best option in all condom advertisements.

Justice Oyekan-Abdullahi has equally ordered that condom advertisements should only be aired between 6a.m and 8p.m on radio and between 6p.m and 10p.m on television henceforth.

Delivering ruling in a suit filed by the Incorporated Trustees of the Project for Human Development (PHD) against the Incorporated Society for Family Health (SFH), the judge also held that condoms are not 100 per cent effective, and that total abstinence or faithfulness is the best option.

PHD had in the suit filed through their counsel, Sonnie Ekwowusi of Sonnie Ekwowusi and Co, among other reliefs, asked the court to declare that the advertisement of the ‘Gold Circle’ condom by SFH in a national newspaper without the Health Risk Warning Clause of the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) that the product “is not 100 per cent safe but total abstinence or faithfulness is the best option,” is illegal and unconstitutional.

The applicant also prayed the court to declare that failure/negligence/refusal of the 1st respondent to insert the aforesaid Health Risk Warning Clause on the packets of ‘Gold Circle’ condom which it markets and advertises throughout Nigeria is contrary to article 49 of the APCON laws, Sections 17, 37, 38, 39 (3), 45 of the 1999 Constitution and Articles 17, 18 27 and 29 of the African Charter on Human & Peoples’ Rights (Ratification Enforcement) Act, CAP 10 and therefore illegal and unconstitutional.

The applicant contended that the way condoms are advertised in Nigeria and elsewhere, gives the misleading impression that condoms are 100 per cent safe/effective.

According to the applicant, the statements that condoms offer “maximum protection” and that “Condoms protect both of you against infections…” are false.
“The “warning” sign reproduced below which has been put out by Rubber Chemistry and Technology, Washington, D.C., United States, since June 1992, but has remained unchallenged to date.

“If there are no holes in condoms, why would the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) insist that manufacturers test for holes in condoms and consequently sets an Acceptable Quality Level (AQL) that if up to four condoms have holes in a batch of 1,000, the batch will be allowed to pass.

“Condoms, in addition to having possible manufacturing defects, could undergo deterioration during shipping, handling and storage, and even further degradation after purchase by the end user.

“To a greater or lesser degree, factors such as the following have been proposed as possibly contributing to the degradation of latex (and thus to condom failure): exposure to sunlight, heat (including body heat when placed in pockets or wallets), humidity, pressure, certain spermicides and even to atmospheric ozone (2).
“Besides, the condom may still suffer last-minute physical damage immediately prior to or during actual use, such as contact with pointed or sharp objects including fingernails and rings.

“From the above documented facts, it is very clear that the AIDS virus can pass through the latex membrane and it has also scientifically been proven that the AIDS virus does pass through the latex membrane,” the applicant argued.

The applicant therefore prayed the court for perpetual injunction restraining the 1st respondent, whether by themselves, their agent, servants or privies or otherwise howsoever, from further advertising the ‘Gold Circle’ condom or any condom at all in The Guardian Newspaper of the second respondent or any other media or anywhere in Nigeria without compliance with APCON laws.

“With this judgement of the Lagos State High Court, anybody putting a blind faith on condoms is taking a big risk.
“If condoms have naturally-occurring could undergo deterioration during shipping, handling and storage as well as slip off the penis or the vagina during sexual intercourse, why the self-conceited reliance on condoms?” Ekwowusi asked.

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