We have all faced that awkwardness, while watching television with our parents and a condom commercial comes up, leading us to either change the channel or face the discomfiture. Well, that is about to end.
On Monday, India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issued an advisory to the country’s T.V. channels wherein they were “advised not to telecast the advertisements of condoms, which are for a particular age group and could be indecent/ inappropriate for viewing by children.” Herein it was mentioned that the commercials can be telecasted between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. which are supposedly not family-viewing hours.
This was recommended and welcomed by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), a self-regulatory, non-governmental organisation, which in recent times received complaints against condom ads alleged to be indecent, being aired repeatedly by some channels during family viewership hours.
“Some of the condom advertisements are detrimental to the children’s sensibilities as they focus on sensationalising the act and play heavily on sexual content to grab eyeballs rather than being educative, informative and focused on the benefits of condom usage for an audience of all age groups,” ASCI said.
The fact that India still frowns upon sex or anything inappropriate or explicit, in their eyes, preferring to treat it like a dirty secret that Indians are ironically well aware of, has had far reaching consequences, with more than half of India’s 48 million pregnancies unintended, and a third resulted in abortions. Needless to say, it is set to overtake China as the most populated country in the world by 2024, according to the UN.
Just as this ban was commenced, Twitter and other social media platforms went frenzy, with many deploying humour to voice their disapproval, while some progressive social personalities perceiving this to be a bad idea. The decision has garnered mixed reactions on social media :
Banning such ads wouldn’t yield the desired results, atleast not in today’s times. Anything related to sex, condoms, contraceptives can be easily sourced from the internet. However it is partially true that some of these ads don’t really serve their purpose, which is to encourage safe sex and spread awareness about family planning and AIDS/HIV. But it is no surprise that most Indian parents avoid topics related to sex and choose to let their children uncover information about it on their own as they grow up.
Yet again, when in 2007 the central government launched the Adolescence Education Programme in Schools, thirteen states called for its immediate ban invoking “against the Indian culture” as the reason. Such information being held back, catalyses a child to seek different sources to know what it is that everyone is hiding from them. This leads them to surf through search engines and view pornography and other references to know about it. So, while trying to protect our children, we are all the more pushing them to divulge into unhealthy activities. It is high time for parents as well as the schools to be taught how to discuss ‘the birds and the bees’; talk with their children instead of shunning the whole matter.
In a country like India with its rising population, this ban is the last thing the government should be doing. But again, in a country like India where a movie like Padmavati is banned for provocative dressing and distortion of history, its only ordinary to expect the oddest and the most unexpected. How condom ads affect children is difficult to comprehend but as we all know, our sanskari- government knows better.