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Karnataka Drug Controller 'Orders' Ban on Contraceptives for Teens, Takes U-Turn

The circular had reportedly been issued after condoms and contraceptives were found in the bags of school students.

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The Drugs Control Department (DCD) of Karnataka on Thursday, 19 January, clarified that no circular to the effect of prohibiting pharmacists from selling condoms, oral contraceptives, and anti-depressant to minors, had been issued.

The U-Turn: This came a day after Bhagoji T Khanapure, drugs controller of Karnataka, was quoted as saying, "Technically, the government is promoting condoms to prevent sexually transmitting diseases and also for population control. However, it is not for teens or school kids. Hence, the circular strictly says that medicines should not be sold for underage teens," BangaloreMirror reported.

What has the DCD said now? Speaking to The News Minute, Khanapure said, “We have not issued any circular to that effect. This has been reported wrongly in the media. What we are trying to do is create awareness by telling pharmacists to counsel minors who want to purchase condoms and oral contraceptives.”

Reason for the ban? The circular had reportedly been issued after condoms, contraceptives, cigarettes, and whiteners were found in the bags of school students in November last year.

What did the bag inspection lead to? Following the incident, the Associated Management of Schools in Karnataka (KAMS) had urged schools in the city to conduct regular searches in the school bags of students. 

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The big picture: Netizens believe that the school bag discovery could have been a teaching moment to "destigmatise adoloscent sexuality." However, under POCSO, sale of contraceptives to minors is a punishable offence. Now, with the DCD clarifying that the sale of condoms and contraceptive pills to teens has not been banned, counselling may seem to be only option out.

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