The powerful Sanatan Dharma Mahasabha (SDM) in Trinidad and Tobago has joined forces with other religious groups to protest the government's decision to install condom vending machines throughout the country.
SDM secretary general Satnarayan Maharaj said the move would encourage promiscuity.
"Condom vending machines would encourage the development of a condom culture in society and will send a wrong message to young people," Maharaj said at a press conference at St. Augustine near here last weekend.
According to the Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP) tabled in the Trinidad parliament Aug 20 as part of the Budget 2008 documents, the government stated that "procurement of condom vending machines" is one of several initiatives, which would be implemented by the National AIDS Coordinating Committee (NACC) in 2008.
The SDM secretary general said, "The Hindu community and the Mahasabha have always advocated the avoidance of active sexual activity before marriage and if this is adhered to there will be no need for condom machines."
The Hindus in this Caribbean nation are mostly Indo-Trinidadians, descendants of Indians who had come in the 19th and 20th centuries to work as indentured labour in sugarcane plantations.
Today, there are around 520,000 Indo-Trinidadians in this country of a million people.
Calling the condom machines "a bogus rationale" in the fight against illicit sexual activity and by extension, the fight against HIV/AIDS, Maharaj said, "Telling young people to avoid having premature sex outside of marriage would allow the moral fibre in society to remain intact and the problems of AIDS and unwanted pregnancies would also disappear".