Condom ads may be aired only between 11pm and 5am because 'family time' is sacred

DailyBiteDec 06, 2017 | 21:36

Condom ads may be aired only between 11pm and 5am because 'family time' is sacred

In 2014, then Union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, a doctor no less, suggested that fidelity instead of condoms would be a better measure to prevent the spread of AIDS. He was quoted saying: "The thrust of the AIDS campaign should not only be on the use of condoms. This sends the wrong message that you can have any kind of illicit sexual relationship, but as long as you're using a condom, it's fine.”


A statement like this speaks volumes of the worrying state of affairs in India when one considers sexual health. To the sanskari Indian, it is not sexually transmitted diseases or unplanned pregnancies that are the enemy, it is the innocuous latex cap.


Thus, it comes as no surprise that following myriad complaints from television viewers, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) – a self-regulatory, voluntary, non-governmental organisation of the advertising industry in India – sought suggestion from the ministry of information and broadcasting (I&B) on whether or not it should be possible to restrict the telecast of condom advertisements with “explicit sexual content” between 11pm and 5am, something they feel is outside of what is considered as “family time” viewing.

Speaking to Hindustan Times, Shweta Purandare, the secretary general of ASCI, said that if the content of an advertisement is found to be suitable for viewing, the body cannot ask for the advertisement to be slotted for late viewing: “The letters that we received from consumers complained that the content of the advertisements of condoms was meant for adults and should not be aired during prime time. But slotting ads is not our mandate, so we have asked the government for instruction.” 


Photo: Screengrab

In fact, according to an Asian Age report, the ASCI’s Consumer Complaints Council reviewed the complaints regarding the TV commercial at the instance of Maharashtra State Commission for Women, a statutory body in charge of looking after women’s interests.

The cause of this problem, unsurprisingly, according to sources in the ministry is Manforce, a condom brand that has had a history of making suggestive commercials. In fact, it is not even the first time Manforce has got into trouble. Back in September, the brand’s advertisement featuring Sunny Leone – who is their ambassador – drew protests from Hindu Yuva Vahini, a far-Right Hindutva group because it was Navratri-themed.

In fact, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) had asked the Centre to ban its outdoor advertisement in Gujarat, saying it was derogatory and encouraged the youth to use its condoms in the name of the Navratri festival.

India has a sanskar problem

At 1.324 billion, India’s population is worrying. In fact, within the next seven years, India is set to overtake China to become the world's most populous country. Add to that the fact that India has a STI/STD (sexually transmitted infections/diseases) problem. According to a study, STD cases have jumped from one per cent to 4.9 per cent over the past four years, with the diseases ranging from Viral and bacterial STIs, HIV, molluscum contagiosum, cyanea acuminate, herpes genitalis to secondary syphilis.


And, yet, the focus is not on either one of these things. People are more concerned over what fits into their sanskar-laden worldview. A BuzzFeed report from July noted that non-Indian companies like Amazon and Netflix too have been practising a lot of censorship just to cater to the Indian market.

According to another report, compared to European countries, which have an overall 30 per cent condom usage, India has less than 6 per cent despite the fact that the country ranks third in the number of HIV cases worldwide. The report further notes that the use of condoms has declined 52 per cent in the past eight years.

In 2015, educationist and RSS ideologue Dinanath Batra said that sex education will “pollute” young minds. It is only fitting that this is an idea shared by many Indians – that watching Sunny Leone seduce a man in a 60-second ad on television is a bigger problem for Indians than having to explain birds and bees to their children.

Last updated: December 06, 2017 | 21:36
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