India Bans Condom Ads From Prime-Time TV


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An International Condom Day event in New Delhi in February. Despite government efforts to control population growth, the rate of condom use in India is low.

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Sajjid Hussain/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

NEW DELHI — The steamy ads featuring a former porn star were apparently the last straw.

For months, conservative groups in India have been complaining about condom manufacturers’ risqué ads. One of the most titillating features Sunny Leone, a former actress in X-rated videos, undressing piece by piece.

So India’s government stepped in this week, declaring condom commercials “indecent” viewing for children and restricting them to the hours of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., when relatively few people watch television.

But progressive social groups said this was a bad move. India, they argue, desperately needs more condom use, not less.

The country’s population currently stands around 1.3 billion, and within the next decade India is expected to pass China and become the world’s most populous nation. The government has spent huge amounts of money trying to control the meteoric population growth, incentivizing vasectomies and other forms of birth control.

But the rate of condom use is still low — less than 6 percent among those who use contraceptives.

“We need to reach out to more people with more and more advertising, not less,” said Poonam Muttreja, the executive director of the Population Foundation of India, a private organization. ‘‘Condoms are one of the few methods of birth control which prevent H.I.V. and unwanted pregnancies. And they have no side effects.”

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