It’s easy to say that a shortage of condoms is not a big deal, but as it turns out that’s not quite so. Malaysia is on lockdown because of the virus, and that’s where the world’s biggest producer of condoms is. The 3 factories of Karex Bhd have opened up again but are working at only 50% capacity. They produce condoms for many brands including Durex, also for the UK’s NHS as well as for the UN’s Population Fund. When at capacity, they make 100 million condoms a week, so the closures mean a shortage is looming. It will be a while for the factories to come up to capacity and be able to fill the demand. Factories in China, India and Thailand are also on lockdown as of this writing. For countries like Africa and the many NGOs through which the condoms are distributed, it will not take a week or a month but may take at least several months before the shortage can be made up, thus creating another kind of humanitarian crisis, forcing people to have children before they are able to care for them, or perhaps be unduly contaminated by diseases. And it’s doubtful the issue of unwanted pregnancies and disease contamination will be confined to Africa and is bound to also manifest closer to home. A shortage of condoms, inconsequential as it first appears ends up demonstrating how the long arms of the coronavirus reach far and wide, showing us once again how interrelated we are, and how what happens in one distant country can affect all.
Child marriage has normally been seen as a human right issue. But a new study by the World Banks and the Center for Research on Women (CRW) suggest that child marriage is also an issue of economic development. While child marriage does occur even in countries like the US, the greatest proportion occurs in poor countries. In Niger for example 77% of women between the ages of 18 to 22 were married before the age of 18. Sometimes the poorer the country, the more child marriage is likely to occur. Often there are laws banning child marriage, yet it still occurs. Laws have been on the books in Bangladesh for example since a surprising 1929, but have been Continue reading “Child Marriage and Economic Development”