‘I am 31 years old, a husband and father of two children. I work as a steel concrete labourer for one of the construction companies that are developing the Tanjung Priok Access Road.
I‘m lucky because I can go home everyday as I’ve rented a small house near the project site. But for men who live far from their families, to relieve stress they will look for sex workers, male or female. Their wages are about $3–5 a day, but they’ll happily pay $5–20 to have sex. If they are not having sex, they’re getting drunk.
Although most of us have heard from the media about gonorrhoea, syphilis and HIV, and that they can be transmitted through sexual intercourse without a condom, most don’t pay any attention. I… no, my friends buy antibiotics or herbs if they feel uncomfortable or feel pain around their genitals. Do we visit the doctor? No way, it would be shameful. Sometimes I feel guilty that men don’t care about the risk to our wives.
One day my foreman asked me and some friends to attend a discussion during our lunchtime. At first we objected but he insisted that we join the other workers. At first, I could not believe it! A young man from the Indonesian Planned Parenthood Association (IPPA) was speaking frankly about sex. He explained what a sexual transmitted infection (STI) is and all about HIV and how it can be transmitted. He also distributed a leaflet with information on STIs and HIV, and the address and telephone number of his organization. Not only did he visit us regularly, but so did his colleagues. Over time, many workers considered these educators as friends. They helped us to understand about STIs and HIV and have encouraged us to use a condom when having sex. We were also allowed to use their mobile health services to have genital examinations and blood tests.
I now see some of my colleagues trying to look for condoms on pay day, although they are still ashamed to ask for them! How long should this programme should continue? I suppose for as long as men work far from home.’
This is one of the twenty-four, real-life stories highlighting how IPPF's work is having a real impact in the lives of people around the world. 'In A Life' is available at: http://www.ippf.org/en/Resources/Reports-reviews/In+a+life+2010.htm