Indians question decision to ban daytime condom ads

Indians are questioning the merits of a government order banning condom adverts from being broadcast on primetime TV.

The information and broadcasting ministry says the adverts may only be shown between 10pm and 6am because they could be “indecent for children”.

Some Indians found the directive regressive, but others agreed that many condom ads were “vulgar” and inappropriate for younger viewers.

Talking openly about contraception and sex is still largely taboo in India.

The ministry order cited broadcasting regulations banning “indecent, vulgar, suggestive, repulsive or offensive themes”.

“All TV channels are hereby advised not to telecast the advertisements of condoms which are for a particular age group and could be indecent for viewing by children,” it said.

Child psychologist Achal Bhagat told the BBC the decision was questionable.

“If the idea is that it sex is indecent, then why only restrict condom ads when other types of sexual content are freely available?” he said, citing how easy it was for children to access pornography on the internet.

Dr Bhagat said condoms could be a healthy way to start conversations about safe sex.

“We should focus on more points of conversation for our children where we can be open with them, rather than worry about them being spoiled. What is more worrying is this decision seems to have been made in a very patriarchal context that does not take choices into account.”

Condom companies objected to the decision.

Raymond Group, which owns the KamaSutra brand of condoms, told the Economic Times newspaper that “not all condom advertising is indecent, adding that they followed industry standards.

The Indian Express newspaper said the decision had been taken by the ministry, after India’s advertising standards association told them that they “could not govern the timings for such ads, based on complaints”.

This is the second time in recent months that condom ads have come under the spotlight in India.

In September, a condom company was forced to pull an advertisementpromoting their popular Manforce brand ahead of the major Hindu festival of Navratri in the western state of Gujarat after protests by some Indians.

In 2008, the Madras high court told condom manufacturers not to have “sexy” pictures on the packaging of their products as this was an “affront” to Indian culture.

Last year the Supreme Court asked one of the country’s most senior lawyers to examine condom packaging to see if the pictures on them were too racy and violated obscenity rules. (Courtesy BBC)

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