French President Jacques Chirac's campaign spokesperson Roselyne Bachelot marked International Women's Day by inaugurating France's first female condom machine. But the plan aimed at polishing the incumbent's feminist credentials ahead of the presidential election in May backfired when women protesters complained that the female condom's cost -- two euros ($1.76) -- was three times the price of a male condom. Bachelot unveiled the new condom machines -- blue for men, pink for women -- in one of five central Paris metro stations now equipped with them. The female condom has been available in some countries for several years. But amid criticisms that its plastic crackles and that it reduces sensation for both partners, it has not won wide acceptance. The AIDS awareness group ACT UP denounced Friday's event in a statement as a publicity stunt and said the conservative Chirac was "using the vagina as an electoral ploy."
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