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Hidden condoms in Houhai aid migrants

By Liu Meng (Global Times)

08:36, May 31, 2012

(Photo from Global Times)

Free condoms will be provided to employees and customers in bars in Shichahai, Xicheng district, after a family planning association was set up Tuesday afternoon to serve migrant workers.

It is the third similar association established for migrant workers after two were set up in 2010 and 2011, targeting pedicab drivers and boatmen who work in the tourist area centered around Houhai Lake and neighboring hutong.

"The associations aim to enable migrants to enjoy the same service as permanent residents," said Chen Jinhong, director of the family planning office affiliated to the Shichahai street office, and who is the brains behind the project.

Some migrant workers neglect their health, and will not buy a condom if they have sex, Chen noted.

The condom is inserted in a slot in a folded card, a tourist map or a "Chinese knot," and is put on bar counters, pedicab seats or hung on a boat to meet people's "hidden demand."

"The office sends the 'cards' every few days. It's convenient for both my young staff and customers," said Zhang Jianjing, manager of Houhai No.5 Bar & Restaurant.

Besides condoms, the family planning associations also hands out reproductive health guides, gives lectures on health, and free checkups.

"The service is welcomed," said Chen, "the Shichahai Scenic Area Administration, in charge of pedicab services, asked for condoms as visitors took them all, and the drivers use them too."

A 52-year-old pedicab driver, surnamed Li, who comes from Henan Province, felt a little awkward when interviewed.

"I can't say none of us uses the condom," he said, "but maybe I'm too old and traditional to accept this, because of how my passengers, especially if they are young, may feel when they open the map and see a condom."

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