Image credit: iStock/AndreyPopov Image credit: iStock/AndreyPopov

Last week (May 27th), officials in Pakistan banned all condom advertisement over fears that they would lead to children becoming curious about safe sex. The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) directed all radio and TV channels to stop airing condom adverts immediately.

Adverts showing other forms of contraception and family planning products were also banned. According to Pemra, the decision was due to complaints being received about "undesired" contraception adverts being shown via the media in the country.

The notification from Pemra to TV and radio channels read: "General public is very much concerned on the exposure of such products to the innocent children, which get inquisitive on features/use of the products."

Pemra warned that media outlets failing to abide by the ban would face legal consequences.

Adverts for contraception are reasonably rare in Pakistan anyway, which is notoriously strict when it comes to discussing sex. The conservative attitude of religious leaders in Pakistan means that media outlets are constantly concerned about showing material that could be deemed to be offensive or overly sexual.

Condom use across the country is fairly infrequent due to the fact that family planning is thought to be a taboo by many and around a third of those living in Pakistan don't have access to birth control, according to the United Nations.

Statistics show that the population of the country is increasing by around 1.8 per cent each year. The number of HIV positive people in Pakistan has also reached over 94,000. Around 16,000 of these are in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Pemra has now backtracked on the decision to ban condom adverts, but is this enough to help curb the rapid population increase and spread of sexually transmitted diseases?