Sunny Leone's condom ad evokes protests in Surat: Why are we so uncomfortable with the three-letter-word?

Anvisha Manral

Sep,19 2017 17:29 43 IST

The Confederation of All India Traders have sent a letter to Ram Vilas Paswan, Minister of Consumer Affairs, seeking a ban on an advertisement of Manforce, a contraceptive company. Billboards featuring Sunny Leone on an advertisement of Manforce condoms were spotted in Surat and have now become the area of contention.

"Play, but with love, this Navratri" is written in Gujarati on the billboards with Leone dressed in traditional attire. The ad infuriated many people who immediately deemed it immoral and a cheap promotional tactic.

 

In the letter sent to Paswan, CAIT appeals the minister to take action against the manufacturer along with the brand ambassador. Suggesting that celebrities, who endorse products, should be held responsible in such situations, too, they urge that the pending Consumer Protection Bill be passed.

Here's the letter:

The letter sent to Ram Vilas Paswan by the CAIT.

The letter sent to Ram Vilas Paswan by the CAIT.

Several religious groups were quick to claim that the advertisement is nothing but depravity in its purest form. As per a Times Now report, the Hindu Yuva Vahini alleged that the posters insult Hindu Gods, and have protested against the posters at one of the ads locations.

On the other hand, reports suggest that during the nine-day extravaganza, contraceptive sales and abortion rates soar at an all-time high. According to a Buzzfeed report, Gujarat jumps from the sixth place to third in terms of the number of sex products bought.

Not just sales, the anxiety levels of suspicious Indian parents also catapult to an extreme during Navratri. As per a Reuters blog, there is a booming rise in the number of unmarried girls seeking abortions, right after the festival is over. Some medical professionals conduct sex workshops right before the Hindu festival to educate the younger lot.

Another bizarre claim that the report claims is that parents in Gujarat, often hire small-time detectives to snoop on their children during Navratri since the nights are usually involve merrymaking of all kinds.

Therefore, to seek a ban on an advertisement that merely speaks the truth and cashes in on the dynamics is extreme. As far as the advertisement is concerned, there is nothing defamatory about it. What seems to be inviting the wrath of the CAIT and the general public, is Sunny Leone.

The committee seems to have an issue with Leone being on the poster and makes its stand clear in the letter, too. Their sensibilities should not be affected by who is on the poster. It is safe to say, that the ad would not have received half as much backlash if it had some other actor on its poster.

The agitation seems a little contrived because of who Sunny Leone was. Nobody, apart from her, seems to have gotten over her past.