A row has broken out over a “disgusting and offensive” Kingston Council sexual heath campaign that “encourages women to sleep around” without warning them of the dangers of disease.
Bright pink posters adorned with the words, “You spent the night in Clapham but you left your pill in Kingston, it might be time to consider the coil” have popped up across the borough.
The “get it, forget it” campaign is designed to promote the contraceptive coil— a copper device inserted into the womb that works by stopping the sperm and egg from surviving.
It does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Objectors say the posters promote promiscuity, do not warn of the dangers of catching an STI and have a “confused message”.
Old Malden councillor Mary Clark said: “I am very broad-minded but I just find this campaign disgusting.
“The posters have no place in the middle of New Malden High Street. The message is completely confused.
“What “pill” are they referring too? The contraceptive pill? The morning after pill? The campaign is offensive.
“I saw two girls, they must have been 11 or 12, looking at the poster.
“It is saying to them, ‘be as promiscuous as you like, as long as you’ve got a coil in’.”
STIs among people aged 15 to 24 in London rose by five per cent last year.
Lambeth, the borough that Clapham sits in, has one of the highest rates of Chlamydia in the capital with 2,920 people under 25 in 100,000 people under 25 carrying the infection.
The borough also reported 477 new cases of syphilis last year, which is the highest in London, according to Public Health England.
Coombe Boys pupil James Giles, 16, said: “It is not appropriate.
“If it was outside the university or a sexual heath clinic then I would understand.”
Cllr Clark and James both claim they were told the New Malden posters would be removed after their complaints. A council spokesman denied this and said they would be staying.
He said: “Kingston has made excellent progress in reducing teenage pregnancy rates and has the second lowest abortion rate in London.
“More than 700 coils [have been] fitted in Kingston GP practices in the last 12 months.
“Kingston Council’s coil campaign is designed to build on this success with a thought-provoking message.
“This is a responsible public health campaign.”
Sue Knight, lead nurse at Brook, the UK’s only national sexual health charity for young people, said: “Complaints about the campaign promoting sleeping around feel unhelpful.
“We would always encourage people to take responsibility for their sexual health but strongly believe that they should be free to enjoy sex and their sex lives.
“We believe all young people should be provided with accurate information about the various methods of contraception available in order to make an informed decision.
“We also always encourage the use of condoms in addition to the pill or the coil as it is the only method that protects against STIs.”