The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has clarified that the ban on condom ads between 6 am and 10 pm pertains only to advertisements with sexually explicit content. “Advertisements that do not sexually objectify women” can continue to play beyond these hours. The clarification comes a day after Rajasthan High Court issued notices to the I&B and Health ministries on its December 11 order.
“It is clarified that the said advisory only pertains to sexually explicit content being used to market certain condom brands which titillate the audience from a PR perspective. Advertisements which do not sexually objectify women and are aimed at informing citizens regarding devices/ products/medical interventions to ensure safe sex are not covered under the said advisory,” reads an I&B communication.
On December 11, the ministry banned condom ads between 6 am and 10 pm on the grounds that it had received complaints regarding their impact on children. The order said that it has been brought to its notice “that some channels carry advertisements of condoms repeatedly which are alleged to be indecent especially for children”.
It cited the Advertising Code of the Cable Television Network Rules of 1994, saying that it bars any advertisement “which endangers the safety of children or create in them any interest in unhealthy practices or shows them begging or in an undignified or indecent manner”. Neither does it allow “indecent, vulgar, suggestive, repulsive or offensive themes or treatment” in ads, it said.
The order drew criticism from various quarters. Among them were health experts who said that given that India is battling population rise for years now and according to National Family Health Survey 4 (2015-16 data), there is a nearly 13 per cent unmet need for contraceptive, condoms should be talked about more, not less. The argument that children get affected too found few takers as many felt that children in this age of Internet exposure should be a target audience for contraception information.