UNICEF envoy to India: Curb on advertisements, not condoms

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UNICEF envoy to India: Curb on advertisements, not condoms

With respect to choices around life skills, Haque also said that society's challenge also lies in making safe space where young individuals can talk about informed choices.

Clearing the air over 'ban' on condom ads in India, UNICEF's representative to India Dr Yasmin Ali Haque in a conversation with Mail Today said that while the government has banned advertisements on condoms for a certain time frame, it has "not banned condoms altogether which are still available in the market".

She also added that it is just TV medium which cannot show such ads but others are still free to talk about condoms. "TV is not the only space for creating awareness on condoms and there are other channels for advertising condoms,"

Haque said. "I think the issue really is about what are the services available and what are the informed choices about it.

The services (condoms) are available in the market and aren't banned. Are we reaching out to the people who need these services, is the question," Haque said.

On Tuesday, ministry of information and broadcasting issued a ban on condom commercials, saying the ads could be "indecent or inappropriate for viewing by children and has slotted the telecast of such ads from 10 pm to 6 am.

The advisory has termed the advertisements as "indecent viewing for children". The commercials have been restricted to late night slot when relatively few people watch television.

With respect to choices around life skills, Haque also said that society's challenge also lies in making safe space where young individuals can talk about informed choices.

Haque also expressed grave concern over the recent rape and murder of a six-year-old girl in Hisar. The girl's body was found with pieces of wood inside her private parts.

"We're gravely concerned with brutalities on minor. The focus really is that brutalities on children are being inflicted across the world and we need to find ways on how it can be prevented as a first measure and how the system will work to address this," Haque told Mail Today.

While appreciating the increase in general social awareness around Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, which Haque said is addressing the bottlenecks overlooking prosecution, rehabilitation and processing of the cases, the UNICEF's representative to India said that attention needs to be paid on implementation of POCSO across the country.

"A lot of sexual abuse is taking place within the family, how does one address it when it takes within a family," Haque questioned.

"Community and social sphere needs to support the survivors of sexual abuse so that they do not feel threatened. The stigma around the victim continues and we need to understand, how, as a society, we can eliminate that? We need to enable people to speak out," she said.

Lauding government's campaign on girl child education, 'Beti Bachao Beti Padhao', Haque said, "The fact that parents of the 6-year-old came out and demanded something be done about the crime committed shows an increase in awareness around how people want to address crimes against children."