ZIMBABWEAN women are demanding flavoured female condoms which are attractive, sexy and friendly to use as the current ones are considered too thick.

Makonde West legislator Jennifer Mhlanga told delegates at the World Female Condom Day in Chinhoyi on Wednesday that the female condom was not popular.

Mhlanga said the uptake of female condoms in Zimbabwe can be boosted through the introduction of flavoured types.

"I collected a bit of feedback for you PSI and partners. This is a funny one, the women were also asking for flavours. I did not know there was banana; I knew there was strawberry (for male condoms). They said they want these flavours too," Mhlanga said.

The legislator said protecting one's health is a personal responsibility and women need to rise above patriarchal tendencies which have left many at the risk of contracting HIV.

"Women are taught to be submissive to their husbands from an early age thereby making it difficult to bring out sexual issues in the open but we want to say to women it is your right to demand that you use a female condom because it is your body you are protecting."I then got to know that it has become thinner but they were complaining about it being thick, I am not sure if they were talking about the older version or the new one. If it is not the new one, then it has to be sold as such a version."

National Aids Council District Aids Coordinator for Makonde, Yvonne Chavunduka said there was need to invest in educating women on the importance of using the product.

"There is a wide margin between the two condoms. You know that in a quarter, 258 000 male condoms against 12 000 female condoms are distributed. Those condoms are not demonic, we need to dispel myths surrounding the use of the condom," she said.

District medical officer Paradzai Mudzengerere said male acceptance of the female condom has proved to be a major drawback.

"I know one in every two women struggle to insert it but that can be overcome through consistence. Male acceptance is a big problem because men feel this is designed to give women power over the act," he said.

Zimbabwe has 1,2 million people living with HIV. And over 4,8 million female condoms are distributed annually, 3,2 million through hospitals and clinics while the remainder is distributed by PSI, according to statics.

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