Friday, August 16, 2013

Pakistan bans condom ad for all the wrong reasons

It meant well. Josh ("Strong") Condoms are an initiative from DKT International, a not-for-profit organization that supplies and promotes condoms in several countries for family planning and HIV/AIDS prevention. They run social marketing campaigns in DR Congo, Ghana, Mozambique, Brazil, India and Pakistan.

The Pakistan TV ad stars Mathira Mohammad, a performer and media celebrity known for her frank (for Pakistan) on-air comments on sexuality and male-female relations. In this TV spot, a man for whom Ms. Mohammed is, presumably out-of-his-league manages to marry her. In a display of sexism painful for Western audiences to watch, she becomes his doting and servile wife, attending to his every need. Why? Because he uses Josh Condoms.

Here it is:

While there are many things about this ad that I find annoying, Pakistan’s Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMBRA) actually found it "indecent". Last month, the regulator sent a letter that effectively forced TV networks to stop airing the ad. paraphrases PEMRA:
This commercial is against our religious cultural values, PEMRA said. PEMRA Spokesman Fakhruddin Mughal said that there will be serious action taken against such immoral commercials. 
According to NBC News, the ad also took a beating on social media for trivializing the real need for access to contraception in Pakistan.

An Express Tribune blogger, Zahra Peer Mohammed, wrote:
I have seen many TV shows and adverts that reduce women through various means, be it money, good looks, status and so on. However, this advertisement has to be the most lewd description of how one can secure a woman’s affection through sex. ...
This disgustingly tasteless addition to the ad has no place in a conservative society like our own. The topic of family planning and sex education is taboo in Pakistan and this was a very important subject matter that needed to be handled with delicacy. 
This ad just made it dirty.
And here I just thought it was sexist and dumb.

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