St. Valentine has truly been taken into the heart here in Thailand. The supermarket shelves are lined with heart-shaped boxes. Romantic cards to proclaim one’s devotion are in the shops. Bouquets of roses fill the florists shops. And everywhere, just everywhere, there are toy stuffed bears clutching padded hearts.

This day is also the traditional one for young ladies to offer up their virtue to their paramour. The Bangkok police makes the rounds of the short time hotels to make sure that no underaged beauty is prematurely defiled.

In Thailand half a million people are living with HIV. And in 2009 (the last year for which statistics are available) 28,000 died from AIDS-related complications. So what do the boneheads of the Bangkok city administration decide to order? Nothing short of the removal of condom dispensing machines from all its schools for Valentine’s Day. Apparently some parents had complained that the presence in schools of these most persuasive of devices provoked unnatural and insatiable sexual curiosity in teenagers.

One can’t prevent teenagers from having sex. So how will the complaining parents feel when their little girl gets pregnant, their little boy catches syphillis, or is dying from AIDS?

I despair at the sheer boneheaded stupidity of this decision. Have years of promotion of safe sex in Thailand passed totally unheeded by Bangkok’s pencil pushers?


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