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Minister wants condoms out of AIDS ad campaign

Information and broadcasting minister, Sushma Swaraj, has decreed that anti-AIDS TV spots being aired on national television shouldn't be all about condoms

Information and broadcasting minister Sushma Swaraj does not want a national anti-AIDS campaign that focuses on the use of condoms as a means of preventing the spread of the deadly virus. The minister has pulled up Doordarshan, the national broadcaster, for airing the ads, on the grounds that they encourage sex rather than discourage the spread of AIDS.

Seven spots developed in coordination with the BBC World Service Trust, Prasar Bharati Corporation and National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) were created for national television, of which three were disapproved by the ministry. Four spots are still being aired -- in one, a father advises his son to use a condom; in another, a paanwala offers condoms to a customer instead of small change.

The minister's actions have reportedly been prompted by a visit from a delegation from a woman's group, the Joint Action Front for Women.

Concerned that the ads ‘enabled' men and kept women out of the picture, Ranjana Kumari, the group's coordinator, said that NACO should reorient its objective. “The condom is not a prescription for AIDS, neither is it meant to empower men alone. This is not about latex contact. The issue should be tackled in a sensitive manner.” Swaraj reportedly assured them that Doordarshan had been asked to review its campaign.

Kumari said: “The minister has asked Doordarshan for an explanation and has asked the people involved in creating the campaign to develop spots that not are condom-centric.”

NACO's project director Meenakshi Ghosh said that the TV campaign had been conceived in phases, and that she had written to the Prasar Bharati Corporation to drop the spots if they were deemed objectionable.

Source: newindpress.com, The Indian Express, January 8, 2003