Critics of a "Condom Olympics" event held by the Miss Universe beauty pageant say the event is "counterproductive" and promotes pornography and promiscuity. An event organizer made a confused defense of the event, saying that abstinence is not the "right message" for women like those who have been trafficked or drugged.
The event was held in Nassau in the Bahamas three days before the Miss Universe pageant on Sunday.
Produced by Population Services International (PSI), the "Condom Olympics" featured beauty queens who played various condom games. In one event, the contestants "tested the limits of condom breakage by filling condoms with water and blowing them with air until they burst."
Marshall Stowell, director of communications at PSI, told CNSNews.com that the pageant contestants were put through the exact same training that PSI uses in countries around the world.
"Many times we use games or situations that are friendly to young people, and also friendly to people who are illiterate or of low literacy so that we can deliver life-saving messages in a way so that they understand it."
He claimed that the point of the games is to teach participants the "proper technique" for condom use, because HIV prevention requires "correct and consistent condom use."
Though he granted that abstinence is the only perfect method to avoid HIV, he commented to CNSNews.com:
"But if you’re dealing with women that are, for instance, sex workers, that are extremely poor, very uneducated, and have either been trafficked or drugged or in the sex industry – abstinence is not the right message for them."
Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, criticized the event and reported that PSI was founded by pornographer Phil Harvey.
"They are using young women to promote products for PSI and for the pornography industry," she told CNSNews.com. "They’re using women to display – publicly display – sex related objects, and in essence it becomes like a product endorsement as well."
Wright said the young women’s parents should be "quite concerned." She also wondered whether they are "mature enough" to realize that they are being used to promote an activity that may lead people to be more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS.
She charged that the event was a "horrible reflection" on the Miss Universe pageant.
Alyssa Cordova of the conservative Claire Booth Luce Policy Institute told CNSNews.com that the "Olympics" seemed "quite counterproductive" to the seriousness of HIV.
She said that American culture is "notorious for making light of sexual issues," accusing feminism of promoting sexually promiscuous behavior and condemning and ridiculing those who abstain from sex until marriage.
The Miss Universe pageant, which is owned by Donald Trump, chose Miss Venezuela, 18-year-old Stefania Fernandez, from among 84 contestants as its newest Miss Universe last Sunday, CNSNews.com reports.
According to Human Life International, condom failure rates can run into the low double digits.