ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) has directed TV and Radio channels to "immediately stop" airing advertisements marketing contraceptives and family planning products, according to a notification issued to all media outlets this week.

The decision was taken, said the notification, in light of complaints received by Pemra against "undesired" contraceptives commercials being broadcast on electronic media.

"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," read the notification.

Parents have "shown apathy" on advertisement of such products and demanded a ban on their airing, it further said.

The regulatory body warned of "legal actions under Pemra laws" against media organisations failing to follow the directives on such ads.

Read: Pemra takes controversial contraceptives commercial off air

Pakistan is notoriously strait-laced when it comes to matters of sex and family planning is considered a taboo topic by many.

Contraceptive commercials are rare in Pakistan, where fear of backlash from the country’s religious, conservative right usually means advertisers avoid the subject altogether.

Pemra last year banned an advertisement by a condom brand, calling it “immoral” and contrary to religious norms after receiving a deluge of complaints from the public.

Pakistan's population bomb

Discussing contraception in public is considered taboo by a sizeable portion of the Pakistani population, while some experts warn the population is growing too fast for the country's natural resources to support it.

Pakistan's population is growing by around 1.8 per cent a year and is estimated to peak 240 million in year 2030. At this pace and if the population growth does not slow down, it will outpace Indonesia by 2030 as the country with the largest Muslim population.

Examine: Pakistan's population bomb: 240 million in 2030

According to the United Nations, a third of Pakistanis have no access to birth control.

Unprotected sex and STDs

There are over 94,000 HIV positive patients in Pakistan, making it the second largest South Asian country with the epidemic. Out of these, 16,000 are in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) alone.

Millions across the country suffer from sexually transmitted diseases of various types.

Experts say the biggest cause behind the increase of STDs including HIV is unprotected sex.


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