A Pakistan's media regulator on Tuesday barred television channels from airing a racy condom commercial featuring actress Mathira, saying such "immoral" content should not be beamed during the holy month of Ramzan.
The Pakistan electronic media regulatory authority banned the 50-second advertisement after receiving several complaints that it was "indecent", said its spokesman Fakhar Mughal. “Airing of such immoral advertisements on Pakistani channels and that too in Ramzan warrants serious action,” he told the media.
"TV channels have decided to take off air the condom advertisement as it is highly immoral," said Mughal. A letter sent by PEMRA to the Pakistan broadcasters association said the commercial was perceived as "indecent, immoral and in sheer disregard to our socio-cultural and religious values”.
In the advertisement, Mathira weds an ordinary man living in an old-fashioned neighbourhood, where people are amazed at his marriage to a TV star. Asked by a bewildered neighbour about the secret of keeping his wife happy, the husband displays a packet of Josh condoms and says: "Bring Josh into your life."
The wife also knocks at the door of the neighbour and suggestively asks for ice to "cool" her husband. Josh condoms are marketed in Pakistan by a United States-based non-profit organisation that works to promote family planning and HIV/AIDS prevention.
According to official figures, Pakistan's population is growing at an annual rate of 1.9 percent and has already crossed 180 million.
Controlling the growth is a serious challenge as most clerics in the conservative nation consider family planning against Islam. Topics like contraception are hardly ever discussed in public.
General awareness about the use of contraceptives has increased in urban areas, where several brands of condoms are available. But people in rural areas are either unaware or do not use them because of social and religious reasons.