Advertisement
The Road to Nowhere Issue

Russia Hates Western Condoms

Russia's Ministry of Industry and Trade now supports restricting the import of Western-made rubbers, which health officials say will promote "discipline" and make Russians more "selective in their choice of partners."

by Cecilia D’Anastasio
30 September 2015, 4:00am

Illustration by Ole Tillmann

This article appears in the September Issue of VICE

In Russia, Western condom brands like Trojan and Durex may soon face barriers to entry. Russia's Ministry of Industry and Trade now supports restricting the import of Western-made rubbers, which the country's former health chief says will promote "discipline" and make Russians more "selective in their choice of partners."

Between April 2014 and 2015, Russia had a 51 percent increase in condom use, no thanks to the country's nonexistent sex-ed program. At the same time, it's estimated that 1 million Russians will have contracted HIV by 2016. Despite this, the former health official, Gennadiy Onishchenko, claimed that "rubber technical goods [condoms] have nothing to do with health."

Onishchenko's prude moralism and desire to "solve demographic problems" are only the face of the Russian Industry and Trade Ministry's long-term economic goal: to decrease the country's reliance on foreign goods. X-rays, ultrasound machines, incubators, defibrillators, and other life-saving equipment may confront similar limitations.

Luckily, the law wouldn't stop wholesale stores from selling foreign condom brands—it would only apply to government condom purchases, distributed in nightclubs, schools, and elsewhere. But since Russian condom factories supply a mere 3 to 5 percent of the nation's contraception, the country may be left without a solid plan B if the embargo becomes a reality.

Follow Cecilia on Twitter.