Karachi city council bans women in advertisements -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Karachi city council bans women in advertisements

KARACHI- The Karachi City Council on June 26, 2003 banned the unnecessary depiction of women in advertisements, calling the practice obscene and vulgar.

Naimatullah Khan, Mayor of Karachi, told sources that the council in the metropolis of 14 million passed the law this week and planned to implement it soon.

“Our culture and values are different from the West,” he said. “We want to protect women’s honour. We don’t want to make women toys like they are in the West.”

Khan belongs to the hardline Jamaat-e-Islami, which led a similar campaign in North West Frontier Province bordering Afghanistan in which youths smashed billboards depicting women.

“It was on my initiative that the law was passed,” Khan said. “We plan to implement it soon. We will urge the people, advertisers, not to display obscene and vulgar billboards.”

The decision by the city government is likely to trigger confrontation with the government of Sindh province of which Karachi is the capital.

Shoaib Bukhari, provincial minister for local government, said the Sindh administration would never allow the city government to destroy Karachi’s image.

“FOOLISH”: “It is foolish,” he said referring to the new law. “They find obscenity and vulgarity in everything. It is the problem of their sick mindset. We will protect advertisers under the law.”

Babar Mehmood, a director of advertising firm Orient McCann, said the new law would damage Pakistan’s image overseas and could also hurt foreign investment. He said advertising standards in Pakistan were already conservative.

“There is no obscenity or vulgarity in our advertisements. The existing laws and social pressures do not allow us to go beyond a certain limit.

“If they continue to raise such issues, multinationals will not only stop putting up billboards, but also stop investment. This whole campaign is politically motivated.”

There have been sporadic incidents in Karachi and other major cities in which religious people have blacked-out billboards showing women, especially those adjacent to mosques.

Another leading advertiser said businesses and advertisers are already feeling threatened. “Some have already stopped using women in billboards,” he said.

Saeed Ghani, a member of the city council from former premier Benazir Bhutto’s opposition Pakistan People’s Party, said Jamaat-e-Islami wants a complete ban on images of women.

“But we fought hard. Now the law bans ‘unnecessary use of women in ads’ and is open to debate – it’s impossible to agree whether women are needed or not.”

Source: Business Recorder