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Sex advice on menu at Shenzhen cafe bar
By Wang Zhuoqiong (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-01-10 08:42

SHENZHEN: Walking into a cafe with his four colleagues, Mack Yu, a real estate agent in his 20s, is not just out for a drink.

With prints of paintings by Picasso, Dali and Delvaux hanging on the walls, the cafe looks no different from others in this South China city, except its name, Sex Cafe, which draws curious young men like Yu to take a look inside, albeit blushing a little and tentative.

"The cafe is awesome," said Yu, who was surprised to find he could borrow books related to sex and surf Internet connections which provide addresses of websites giving advice on sexual health.

"Our service is to bring convenience for customers by combining sex education, sex counselling and free condoms into a one-stop shopping experience," said Tao Lin, director of the city's family planning centre, whose idea it was to turn the original sex education centre into a cafe.

"Backed by the local government, the cafe isn't run for profit, but for the social benefits of local residents," said Tao.

Although China is opening up very quickly and perceptions are changing very fast, buying condoms and asking for help on sex issues remain embarrassing to many people.

"But a sex education cafe could make a difference," said Tao. "People won't feel embarrassed to come here in the name of grabbing a cup of coffee."

"There is a demand, there is a way. Citizens need proper guidance and advice about sexual issues," said Tao, adding: "People should take the initiative to learn about sex and our cafe will serve as a platform."

The percentage of females of child-bearing age is 44.98 per cent of the registered population, significantly higher than that of Beijing at 30.36 per cent, Tianjin at 29.78, Shanghai at 29.47 and 23.81 in Guangzhou.

Another concern is that over 53 per cent of the floating population, which makes up some 83 per cent of the city's total population, are young females, making it more difficult for the local government to control population numbers and maintain sexual health.

Against this background, the cafe will be a useful channel for local citizens to obtain free and high quality condoms and emergency contraception.

Doctors and counsellors are on hand to answer questions about sexual issues and marriage problems.

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