Pakistan's media regulatory agency has banned a condom commercial starring a sultry Pakistani model after it received hundreds of complaints the ad was too racy, a senior official said on Thursday.
The 50-second television commercial shows a Pakistani couple wondering why their neighbor's new bride, the model and actress Mathira Mohammed playing herself, is working so hard to keep her husband happy. When asked about his secret, the neighbor smiles and holds up a pack of condoms made by Josh, which means excitement in Urdu.
"Bring Josh into your life," the neighbor says, just before explosions flash behind boxes of condoms on the screen.
Pakistan's media regulatory agency banned the commercial Tuesday after reviewing it and determining that it violated the group's code of conduct, said Mohammad Saleem, a senior regulatory official.
"We don't take any arbitrary decisions," Saleem said.
Though mentioning strawberry-flavored condoms, the ad otherwise isn't racy by Western standards. A conservatively dressed Mohammed greets her new husband's mother, feeds him by hand and knocks on the neighbor's door to get ice for a cold drink.
Josh is a subsidiary of DKT International, a nonprofit organisation founded to promote family planning and HIV/AIDS prevention through social marketing, according to Josh's Facebook page.
DKT, which is funded by both the United States and Britain, has been working in Pakistan since 2012 in attempt to help women meet their needs for contraception, the group says on its website. A telephone number listed for the group rang unanswered on Thursday.
Pakistan has the sixth largest population of any country in the world with roughly 180 million people. If the current rate of growth continues, the population will double by 2050, DKT says.
Pakistan's rapid population growth has strained the country's health and education systems, and its faltering economy has not been able to provide jobs for millions of people entering the work force.
One of the things holding back contraceptive use in Pakistan has been the conservative norms of the majority Muslim country. Some Pakistanis complain that the country is growing even more conservative as hard-line versions of Islam gain greater influence.