NEW DELHI: Policy advocacy bodies lauded the Information and Broadcasting Ministry's clarification that bar on airing of condom ads was only for those with "sexually explicit content", saying that bans and restrictions were not signs of a mature democracy.
They said that instead of restricting the debate to matters like explicit contents, it should be widened to larger issues like protection and knowledge of HIV-AIDS.
Poonam Muttreja, Executive Director of Population Foundation of India (PFI), said the organisation would like to congratulate the ministry for taking into consideration the larger interest of the people and for its swift action.
"This move will no doubt be a significant contribution to advance the reproductive goals of the country. In line with PFI's recommendation, the ministry has rightly decided to grade advertisements according to the content and slot their telecast accordingly," she said.
In an advisory to all television channels on December 11, the I&B Ministry had asked them to restrict airing of condom advertisements to slots between 10 pm and 6 am as these "could be indecent/inappropriate for viewing by children".
In an official memorandum, the ministry had later said, "It is clarified that the said advisory only pertains to sexually explicit content being used to market certain condom brands which titillate the audience from a PR perspective." "Advertisements that do not sexually objectify women and are aimed at informing citizens regarding devices/products/ medical interventions to ensure safe sex are not covered under the said advisory," it added.
"Now is also an important moment to consider the necessity for our governing bodies to take measured and calibrated decisions," said Muttreja.
"Bans and restrictions are not signs of a mature democracy, instead it could cost us and the generations to come dearly," she said.
PFI had earlier said the ministry's decision was poised to undo decades of progress on sexual and reproductive health.
It had suggested that like in the film industry, advertisements can be graded by content and accordingly slotted for telecast instead of removing all advertisements.
On the other hand, V Sam Prasad, Country Programme Director, AIDS Healthcare Foundation said they welcomed the ministry's decision.
"We laud the clarification of the ministry. Instead of restricting the debate on what is raunchy or explicit, the debate should concentrate on protection, knowledge of HIV AIDS and beyond," he said.
"It also welcoming to note that the judicial activism exercised in this issue propelled the revoke of the ban," Prasad added.