Salima — A recent study commissioned by the Malawi Government has revealed that acceptability of female condoms (FC) remains low among rural women.
Speaking on Thursday in Salima during the report dissemination meeting with the District Aids Coordinating Committee (DACC), National Aids Commission (NAC) Communications Officer Ellium Kamanga said that despite that the FC were designed to empower women the study has shown that more men than women reported using the FC.
In his presentation Ellium Kamanga, said the study has shown that women at all levels are slow in accepting the FC, but the trend is high amongst women living in rural areas.
"The study has shown that the acceptability of the FC is lowest in among married women in rural areas. Is better amongst urban women and highest among commercial sex workers," said Kamanga.
The study shows that the uptake of FC is current at 1 percent for married women and 5 percent among commercial sex workers.
The report further shows that major barriers to FC acceptability are social stigma, lack of access, partner opposition (especially males) and lack of knowledge on use.
The report also mentioned that despite the low uptake FC has empowered women to have protected sex through open or covert use.
"Some women and girls have negotiated for safe sex using FC," says the report.
According to some members of the Salima DACC who spoke during the meeting, low FC acceptability among rural women is as a result of cultural beliefs.
Female condoms were first introduced in Malawi in 2004 to empower women to negotiate safe sex.