There has been much controversy surrounding the decision to ban condom adverts by the IB ministry from 6 am to 10 PM. The ministry had received complaints of the ads being offensive in nature, and particularly not suitable to be watched by children. As a response to that, the ministry has issued a directive to not run the ads at prime time.
Twitter had a field day at yet another move that falls in their definition of “moral policing” by the government. A country that is expected to surpass China in population in a few coming years has banned the most easily available and safe contraceptive advertisements from one of the widest means of mass communication. I mean, what do we do now- things have gotten so much worse from this move, right?
Wrong. Things were worse before this move, and they are still the same after it. And probably for a while, they are going to stay the same way. Let me tell you why. There are two sides to this story- the government banned the condom ads altogether- not an exactly right move to put a blanket ban.
The other side- Were condom ads really achieving what we think is lost now that they are out of the prime time slot?
Let’s begin with the second side. All of the condom ads you see show a scantily clad model, making sexually suggestive gestures and seductive poses. Nothing wrong with that, after all it is a condom. The ad tells you how the girl keeps wanting for more, the different flavors and shapes and sizes it comes in. The background score is romantic, bordering on racy.
So where did the problem arise?
1.) When young kids of impressionable ages see this advert, will you as a parent appreciate it? A lot of people didn’t, hence the complaint.
Let’s not confuse this with sexual education, starting the whole argument of “having the talk” at the right age so as to prevent misconceptions in future. Because seeing a half dressed model in seductive poses, (and degrading to an extent, some may/may not agree) is not a premise for having “the talk”.
2.) None of these ads promote, encourage or even mention birth control. It is displayed as a pleasure consumable, which is not wrong- but let’s not confuse it with spreading the message of population control.
The population rise can be attributed to a lot of reasons, ignorance (lack of public knowledge) being one of them. But you know the major reasons-
a.) Not the lack of sex education, but the lack of knowing the consequences of excessive child
b.) Wanting a male child and keep having babies till they have one.
c.) Poverty- meaning more children, more earning hands
d.) Lack of knowledge of family planning- which is supposed to be helped by popularization of birth control measures
But the quality and content of the condom advertisements is doing nothing to that effect.
Yes, a ban is not justified. Also, the quality of advertisements being run in this case isn’t justified. We need more Indians to be aware of birth control, and put a pause to the rising menace that is population explosion. And we need meaningful steps for that.
Dear government: Instead of banning the content altogether, set guidelines for (condom) ads to conform to (to be run in prime time).
Dear critics: Instead of blowing the trumpet with the ban having a counteractive effect on population control, accept what was wrong and fix it.