In a rather senseless move, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry issued an advisory that directed television channels to avoid telecasting advertisements for condoms between 6 am to 10 pm. The reason for this move was attributed to the complaints that the I&B Ministry received, that were of the opinion that these advertisements were ‘indecent’ and ‘inappropriate’ for children to view.
For the second most populous country, that doesn’t seem to have caught on to the concept of planned parenthood and lacks sex education in schools, this move is ludicrous at best and detrimental at worst.
The advisory said that Rule 7 (7) of the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994, states, “No advertisement which endangers the safety of children or creates in them any interest in unhealthy practices or shows them begging or in an undignified or indecent manner shall not be carried in the cable service.”
How does promoting safe sex amount to creating unhealthy interests in children?
The taboo surrounding sex in this country has brought us to a state where we rather let teenagers engage in unsafe sex, while pretending that they must be abstaining and remaining celibate until marriage, instead of promoting safe sex.
Also, the very parents who want to protect their children from the ‘indecency’ and ‘vulgarity’ of condom advertisements now make their wards vulnerable to unwanted teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. Unawareness of contraceptives methods will not get teenagers or young adults from engaging in pre-marital sexual intercourse, and it will only lead to them engaging in unsafe sex that can have disastrous consequences on their lives.
Hoping teenagers and unmarried people will abstain from sex if we keep them away from anything sexual, including sex education or condom advertisements is an overly-optimistic and incredibly asinine belief.
No matter how much we keep them away from condom advertisements, teenagers and young adults will learn about sex, and most of them would want to experiment, which they will. Also, this brings us to the problem of teenagers who aren’t provided with any sex education by their parents or teachers turning to the internet for information. The internet can be a terrible teacher, and these teenagers learn unhealthy and harmful approaches and attitudes towards sex, and most importantly, have no awareness of the consequences of unsafe sex.
Abstinence and remaining celibate until marriage is a choice that cannot be forced on anyone, your children included. Also, protecting them from sex is impossible in a world where all the information you need is a click away, and the collective ignorance we promote when it comes to the subject of awareness about sex amongst teenagers has only proven disastrous.
Instead of educating teenagers about sex, contraceptives, and the dangers involved, here we are, disallowing condom advertisements on television because it makes us uncomfortable. Ignorance will never lead to abstinence, but education about the subject can lead to responsible teenagers and young adults who know what they are doing.
Our attitudes towards sex and our extreme discomfort with the prospect of teenage or pre-marital sex are not healthy. Saying that this extremely unhealthy collective attitude is a ‘part of our culture’ will not take us anywhere, but will only leave us looking at grossly high numbers of teenage pregnancies, unsafe home abortions, cases of sexually transmitted diseases, and instances of unplanned parenthood, right in the face.