India’s estimated 900 TV channels have been ordered to restrict condom commercials to between 10pm and 6am. Photograph: Franckreporter/Getty Images/iStockphoto
India has banned television adverts for condoms during primetime hours, citing rules against content that “endangers the safety of children” and promotes “unhealthy practices”.
The information and broadcasting ministry ordered the country’s estimated 900 television channels to restrict condom commercials to between 10pm and 6am to avoid children seeing them. It said the order was prompted by complaints that “some channels carry advertisements of condoms repeatedly which are alleged to be indecent, especially for children”.
The ministry cited 1994 rules banning commercials that “endanger the safety of children or create in them any interest in unhealthy practices or show them begging or in an undignified or indecent manner”. Regulations also prohibit “indecent, vulgar, suggestive, repulsive or offensive themes” in advertisements, it said.
Family planning advocates said they were disappointed by the order in a country where awareness of condoms’ benefits is high but their use remains stubbornly low – limited to about 5% of men.
“[It is] poised to undo decades of progress on sexual and reproductive health,” said Poonam Muttreja, executive director of the Population Foundation of India.
Sterilisation is by far the most popular method of contraception in India, especially in rural areas, but the procedure is almost always carried out on women and often in dangerous conditions.