A condom advert featuring an ex porn star is causing fury in India

Joe Vesey-Byrne
Wednesday 20 September 2017 14:00
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Former porn actor Sunny Leone in a TV ad for Manforce condoms in 2017. Picture:(Funny Ad Show/YouTube screengrab.)

Former porn star Sunny Leone has been recommending Indians wear condoms during the religious celebration of Navratri.

Billboards in the western state of Gujarat have been pulled down by Indian officials, following complaints about the adverts.

Leone, a Canadian actress with Indian heritage, appeared alongside the slogan 'Play with love this Navratri'.

The actor, whose real name is Karenjit Kaur Vohra, officially quit appearing in porn in 2012, and has subsequently starred in Bollywood films and featured in ad campaigns for PETA.

The make of condom being advertised were Manforce condoms. She has been associated with the brand since quitting porn.

The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) was one of many organisations to lodge a formal complaint.

In a letter to Gujarat's Minister of Consumer Affairs, CAIT accused Manforce Condoms of taking marketing 'to an all-time low'.

This is a clear [sic] irresponsible and immature attempt to boost sales by putting all our cultural value system at stake.

The confederation also criticised Leone personally.

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Navratri is a post-Monsoon season festival which literally translates as 'nine nights' from Sanskrit. The festival in 2017 begins on Thursday.

It is observed for different reasons in different parts of the Indian subcontinent, but in Gujarat it is one of the main religious festivals, and involves fasting for a day, or partially for nine days.

Unofficially, the festival is also associated with a boost in sex between young people.

According to India TV News, a 2015 study found that condom sales increased by as much as 50 per cent during Navratri in Gujarat.

Similarly, in recognition of the spike in sexual activity, NGOs such as the Vikas Jyot Trust put condom machines in hotels, and HIV awareness stalls are set up at Nastratri venues.

In 2004, the Times of India reported the then education minister's warning that the number of abortions in Gujarat tended to rise in the months following the festival.

HT Tribune, First Post, Times of India

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