NEW DELHI: While stating that bans and restrictions are not signs of a mature democracy, policy advocacy bodies have welcomed the Central government’s clarification that a ban on airing of condom advertisements is only meant for “sexually explicit” contents.
They reasoned that in place of resorting to restrictions, the government should look for ways to widen the debate and awareness surrounding larger issues like use of protection, knowledge of HIV-AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.
“We welcome the clarification. Debate should concentrate on protection, knowledge of HIV AIDS and beyond,” said V Sam Prasad, Country Programme Director, AIDS Healthcare Foundation. He added that it was heartening to note that judicial activism in this issue propelled revoke of the ban.
Population Foundation of India (PFI) also hailed the move. “We congratulate the government for considering the larger interest of the people and for its swift action. It will be a significant contribution to advance reproductive goals,” said Poonam Muttreja, executive director, PFI.
She added that the government accepted suggestions of policy advocacy groups to grade advertisements according to content and slot their telecast accordingly.Incidentally, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had asked television channels to restrict airing of condom advertisements between 10 pm and 6 am on the grounds that they “could be indecent/inappropriate for viewing by children”.
However, the minister later clarified that the advisory was only meant for sexually explicit contents being used to market certain condom brands in which actors like Bipasha Basu, Sunny Leone and Ranbir Singh have featured, which titillate the audience from a PR perspective.
It further stated that advertisements that do not sexually objectify and solely focus on informing citizens regarding means for safe sex are not covered under the said advisory. “It’s important to consider the necessity for governing bodies to take measured and calibrated decisions. Bans and restrictions aren’t signs of a mature democracy,” said Muttreja.
Incidentally, the PFI had earlier argued that the restrictions could cost the country dearly and 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.