Friday, November 2, 2007

Beans Beans the Sexual Fruit

The more you eat them the more you... ah, you know how it goes. Today I read that in Ethiopia condoms are being sold with the infused flavour of coffee in them. This is great news for a nation with high rates of HIV. The condoms are being sold "in packs of three for 1 birr, or about 5 pence - about half the price of a cup of coffee in Addis Ababa's cafes, and much cheaper than most other condom brands." (1 birr is the equivalent of approximately $0.12; think about the price of a cup of coffee in North America and then consider that non-fair trade coffee farmers are being paid approximately 1 birr per 1 kg of coffee beans). DKT International, the charity organization distributing the condoms, is proudly responsible for approximately 90% of all condoms distributed in Ethiopia. This new and creative campaign is very exciting; in the first week alone 300,000 of these java condoms were sold.

This isn't the first time DKT International has promoted flavoured condoms in target demographics; in Indonesia in May 2003 an additional fruit flavour was added to the already popular banana, strawberry and mint: Durian. I've tried Durian. It is one sick smelling, strange tasting fruit that is reminiscent, as my partner who grew up in Malaysia says, of dirty socks and mouldy ice cream. Some love the stuff, though, and for those with the same tastebud response as Lilith Attack, the most appealling thing about the durian flavoured condoms, is that it really got people talking about contraceptives. DKT International claims:

This was particularly useful because it was considered humorous. The ability to make people laugh when talking about condoms served to break the ice during educational events and also reduced the stigma around condoms (The Fiesta Durian condom has continued to sell well and has spurred two competitors to launch durian flavoured variants as well).

If coffee flavoured condoms, imaginably better-tasting than durian, generate similar dialogue about condoms, then contrary to conservative catholosism's claims that it's "inappropriate," DKT International and the rest of the world can be encouraged that rates of HIV in Ethiopia will continue to decline.

Have a chuckle the next time you pass up a Starbucks coffee for a fair trade cup o' joe from Ethiopia. And practice safe sex.

4 comments:

La Pobre Habladora said...

Yeah, I posted on this too - which led me to both your site and one called EthioBlog. You should check it out, at nazret.com, because it has a lot of comments posted by Ethiopians who seem not to be on board with the coffee condoms. It is a strange read - some of them even seem to think that the coffee condoms are commercially motivated.

lilith attack said...

Thanks for the referral to Nazret's Ethioblog, the coffee condom comments are here:
http://nazret.com/blog/index.php?title=ethiopia_cnn_picks_up_the_coffee_condom_&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1#comments
And it was neat to read the reaction. It was most interesting that some commenters were wondering about the connection with a flavour and intercourse... if there's no oral sex being practiced then there's no point to having a flavour. I still think the buzz is a creative way to open dialogue about condoms. Tall, Venti, Grande sizes: hilarious!

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