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TANZANIA: Roman Catholic bishops oppose teaching of condom use

Roman Catholic bishops in Tanzania have condemned as "unacceptable" a new science syllabus for primary schools that incorporates the teaching of proper condom use.

"Introduction of the [teaching of] use of condoms in schools, apart from being sinful, is indeed justification and opening the door for immoral lifestyles," Cardinal Polycarp Pengo, the archbishop of Dar es Salaam, said on Monday in a statement issued on behalf of Tanzania's Episcopal Conference.

"Teaching children, some as young as 12 years old, the use of condoms is disastrous," he added.

The disputed part of the syllabus is a section that lists several means of preventing the spread of HIV, including the proper use of condoms. The Ministry of Education released the new primary school science syllabus in November 2005.

The Episcopal Conference has remained steadfast in its opposition to condoms as a means of contraception and HIV/AIDS prevention, despite the fact that at least two million Tanzanians are HIV positive.

The Conference said its opposition did not imply that the church was "blind to the magnitude of the loss of life and suffering to millions of people infected by the disease". However, it said, the church was obliged to defend the dignity of human beings and, as such, had to speak out.

However, Halima Shariff, an official of the Tanzania AIDS Commission said: "The clerics say the only way to check further spread of HIV/AIDS is to abstain from sex or having a single partner. Well, that is indeed good; but what do you do with those who cannot manage to abstain or stick to a single partner?"

Theme (s): Children,

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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