India ranks number two on the list of the Top 10 countries with the highest population in the world. With such startling figures, one would think the country would do more to curb its growing population. But instead, India is taking a step backwards.
In a new notification Dec. 11 that has raised more questions than answers, the Information and Broadcast Ministry of India ordered television channels not to air condom commercials between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. as they could be “indecent and inappropriate” for viewing by children.
Invoking the Cable Television Ruling from 1994, which states that “indecent, vulgar, suggestive, repulsive or offensive themes or treatment shall be avoided in all advertisements,” the ministry also warned that failure to comply with the advisory will “attract action” in accordance with provisions in the cable television networks rules.
The Manforce condom ad featuring adult star-turned-actor Sunny Leone, which was released during Navratri, is said to be the trigger behind this move. The regional poster for the ad with the tagline, ‘Navratri a Ramo, Parantu Premthi’ (this Navratri, play but with love), had sparked protests in Gujarat in September. The ad was later withdrawn.
Earlier in the year, the Indian American actress originally from Canada starred in another risqué Manforce ad, set to the tunes of the old classic, “Man Kyun Behka,” in which she was shown to slowly undress piece by piece.
Other Bollywood stars who have endorsed condom brands in the recent years include Ranveer Singh, Bipasha Basu and Karan Singh Grover.
Many, including healthcare workers, have labelled the ban as a regressive step in a country where talking about sex and contraception is still taboo and reported cases of sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise.
Others are trying to draw the government’s immediate attention to some entertainment programs on TV and films which feature inappropriate content.
“Kids can watch saas bahu plotting to kidnap/kill each other, too many visuals of gun, pelvic thrusts… but God forbid they catch a glimpse of safe sex method...our country regresses exponentially,” one commentator wrote on Twitter.
“Kids can watch live TV news showing a video of a man being burnt to death, but god forbid they get a glimpse of a condom ad,” added another.
In the same vein, another remarked, “Condom ads that btw don’t look too different from the dance numbers parents are a-okay with them watching and dancing to!”
Journalist Harshada Sawant pointed out what was wrong with this move. She wrote on Twitter: “With teenage pregnancy on the rise in India this no condom ad from 6-10pm is a major setback. We ought to focus on promoting safe sex. The times have changed, and sex education is more important than it ever was.”
However, a lot of voices also sort of agreed with the government’s decision, urging the ministry to judge ads by their content.
“No condom ad emphasizes about why it should be used rather they talk about pleasure, texture and flavors,” pointed out one Twitter user. “It’s more like soft porn. Content should be changed and not banned.”
“Condom ads are the same as Katrina Kaif trying to eat the f*** out of a mango for a soft drink ad or a deodorant perpetrating bullshit about women’s sexual responses. If guidelines have to be issued, they should be on type of content. Not the brand or product,” another recommended.
Amidst this ongoing debate on Twitter, one user decided to throw in some humor: “Tweeps, please understand that condom ads are banned from 6 am to 10 pm. Use is not banned. So, you can stop the outrage,” she wrote.
Check out Sunny Leone’s Manforce condom ad here and judge for yourself: