India on Tuesday banned telecast of condom advertisements on TV during day time, a move that has invited fierce criticism from campaigners of safe sex.
In an advisory, India’s Information and Broadcasting Ministry has asked all TV channels in this country not to air condom advertisements between 6am and 10pm local time to avoid exposure of such material to children.
The ministry said: “It has been brought to the notice of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting that some channels carry advertisements of condoms repeatedly which are alleged to be indecent especially for children.
“In view of the above, all TV channels are hereby advised not to telecast the advertisements of condoms which are for a particular age group and could be indecent/ inappropriate for viewing by children.”
The ministry has said the condom advertisements should only be aired late night till early morning, and asked TV channels to ensure strict adherence to the provisions of Cable Television Networks Rules.
The ministry has also warned of action against any TV channel found flouting its order, which comes in the wake of a plea by the Advertising Standards Council of India earlier this month to decide the telecast timing of such advertisements.
“The ministry has taken a call on our request. ASCI had received several complaints on the content of condom advertisments (which) were explicit for children.
“The main issue was with the timing of the advertisements,” Shweta Purandare, secretary general of ASCI, told the media.
Doctors and critics, however, came down heavily on the government’s restrictions on telecast of such advertisements, saying such a move will prove counterproductive for campaigns against unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions and unsafe sex.
“Sex education in schools may not be enough for teenagers. Good condom advertisements can help curb unwanted pregnancies, which are on the rise among teens, by giving the right message.
“I think it’s a wrong step by the government,” Dr. Gauri Kaushik, a gynacologist, said Tuesday.
Poonam Mutreja, executive director of non-governmental body, Population Foundation of India, echoed similar sentiments.
Mutreja said: “There are 13 per cent unwanted pregnancies in India, there are nearly 15 million abortions.
“This decision is a red flag for me.”