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March 28, 2000 02:08pm
Porn not in the cards for Quebec prison inmates
Source: Reuters

(QUEBEC CITY) -- Quebec prison inmates will not be issued educational cards warning of the dangers of unprotected sex and sharing drug needles.

A C$55,000 ($38,000) health-warning campaign using cards depicting cartoon-style characters engaged in sexual activities, doing drugs or tattooing their bodies has been judged just too explicit by Public Security and Health Departments officials in the Canadian province.

So they have shelved the card project, designed by a Quebec AIDS prevention clinic, a government official said on Tuesday.

``We agreed to fund a tool to be developed in prisons. In the beginning we didn't know what kind of tool it would be and when it was submitted a few months ago, we decided not to go further because we found it was at the limit of pornography,'' Alain Vezina, a spokesman for the health ministry, told Reuters.

One card shows two naked women and a vibrator with the caption: ``We can do lots of things without risk...except sharing the vibrator.''

Vezina, who said he had not seen the cards, said that other means could be found to alert Quebec inmates to the hazards of AIDS.

He said 5 percent of Quebec prisoners are HIV positive, adding that about 38 percent of male prisoners and 25 percent of females regularly inject drugs. About 60,000 inmates enter Quebec's 20 jails every year, he added.

Maurice Compagnat, director of client services at the Sherbrooke community health clinic that designed the cards, was not available to comment on Tuesday. But he told a Montreal newspaper that the activities depicted and the language shown in the 52-card set were common in prisons.

``It's disappointing that people consider this to be pornographic...This is a preventive tool which is destined not for the general population, but for prison inmates,'' he told The Gazette on Monday.

``Seeing crude language or drawings of a penis or breasts on a card may be controversial, but it's not if you consider the target audience.''

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