In 2006, a study by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on condoms produced in India was published. With a sample size of around a thousand men. It claimed that the average Indian penis did not match up to the international standards of measurement for condoms.
Flash forward to 2013. The second phase of the study by ICMR was undertaken and the results remained unchanged.
According to the ICMR, a two-year study showed 60 per cent of men in the Mumbai had penises about one inch shorter than those for which standard condoms are designed. This is a concern: a poor fit meant they led to some tearing, or slipping off during use.
But hold on a minute. Are different sized condoms even available? Chander Puri, a reproductive health specialist at the Indian Council of Medical Research told the BBC that "normally one feels shy to go to a chemist's shop and ask for a smaller size condom." Having never actually seen different sizes available, VICE hit up different pharmacies in Delhi to investigate this important public health issue.
We began our search in Kamla Nagar in north Delhi. The elderly shopkeeper told us they only had one size. His solution to my request was “people wear clothes even if they don’t want to.” We’re still perplexed by what that meant.
In 2015, condom shortages at GB road had caused an outcry among sex workers and initiatives such as free condom distributions and a condom dispensary were started. We came across a small shop behind one of the many brothels that populate the area. The barely 18-year-old shopkeeper, told us “Chhota nahi rakhte (we don't keep small sizes),” with a slight giggle.
We were sure that we would definitely find different sizes of condoms near Delhi’s medical hub. But here even the shop owner left the counter while we tried in vain to find different sizes.
At Kalkaji’s Apollo Pharmacy, a shopkeeper said at times they did get orders for condoms in larger sizes. However we couldn't find any. He did try to sell us a bunch of regular sized ones claiming, “ Ye pehenke dekhiye, badiya cheez hain" (Try this on, it’s good stuff).
Here's hoping. Image: Abhik Sengupta
The woman behind the counter at the 24Seven didn’t have the patience for our quest. Exasperated, she laid out all the brands on the counter and told us to help ourselves.
They were all the same size. We gave up.