China has the highest overall contraceptive prevalence rates in the world: 88 per cent of women of reproductive age (15-49) use contraceptives. But that official figure is highly problematic: it’s unrepresentative of sexual activity across the Chinese populace for the fundamental reason that it excludes unmarried women and all men, married or unmarried. So it’s a highly gendered measurement of what constitutes normative contraceptive use. And in China, that concept forms the basis for the entire family planning policy as well as access to and, crucially, knowledge of all contraceptive methods. The upshot of this situation is that married women bear the brunt of contraceptive responsibility, men don’t, and those outside of married couples -- namely 249 million people -- are largely ignored in terms of sex education and general public discourse on all the contraceptive methods available. I want to address these inequalities and other sexual health concerns first by promoting condom use among youth and by providing both women and men with additional contraceptive options.
DKT International runs extensive programmes addressing sexual health in China. Visit their site. To read my China Flash series of articles about contemporary China, please click here.