Dear PEMRA, why can’t we talk about sex?

Published: May 31, 2016

Apparently, our people feel ashamed when there is a condom ad on TV, but they don’t feel so ashamed about women dying giving birth. PHOTO: AMAZON

As of 2015, Pakistan’s estimated population was frighteningly over 190 million. We are growing so fast that the United Nations estimates we will hit 300 million by 2050. 

Now, I am sure some of you read this and thought, “Masha’Allah.”

But the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) warns that we will start running into water scarcity by 2025. Yes, we are already overpopulated, and our resources can’t sustain our growth.

In essence we are a giant growing elephant riding a tiny single-wheel cycle.

Photo: Jusscope

And this unicycle is going to fall, except we are told by our easily offended right-wingers that the growth is good for us.

“Grow elephant, grow. It’s a blessing!” they yell.

Well, it isn’t. We aren’t taking care of what we already have, yet we are encouraging our impoverished masses to reproduce.

Recently, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) decided that contraceptive products should be banned from being advertised. After coming to their senses, they decided to amend the proposal. The new ruling says that TV and radio channels can air ads for contraceptive products, but only after 11 pm.

The greatest irony in Pakistan is that those most opposed to contraceptive ads being shown on TV are the ones who should be employing birth control most regularly.

Look, we all know how Pakistan got this way. Our people are having sex, and a lot of it. It’s not like a family sees a condom ad on TV and collectively gasps,

“What is this? What the hell is sex? I forgot that’s how we created our children.”

The only way to combat this issue is to educate Pakistanis on the subject. Running family planning and birth control ads creates awareness and is an important tool.

Instead of feeding, educating, and nurturing the children we already have, by putting restrictions on contraceptive ads, we are only adding to this country’s woes.

Let’s also please spare a thought for the mothers.

For a woman, it is a difficult journey to give birth to and raise a child.

I have learned from various homemakers who employ women from impoverished backgrounds that they, under pressure from husbands, families, or society, continue to get pregnant. While some resort to using birth control in secrecy, others give in. One such lady was our own maid, who had been warned against getting pregnant again. After her unemployed former convict of a husband and his family threatened her, she agreed to try for another baby. Sadly, she died giving birth, leaving the kids she already had motherless.

It was estimated in 2012 that Pakistan had the highest maternal mortality rate in South East Asia and one of the highest in the world. UNICEF using data from 2010, states that the lifetime risk of maternal death in Pakistan is one out of 110.

While it’s our women who suffer from being turned into baby making machines, it is our men who pressure them. Apparently, our people feel ashamed when there is a condom ad on TV, but they don’t feel so ashamed about women dying giving birth, or about kids living without enough to eat, without a place to earn a quality education, without a roof to shelter them from life.

On a side note, the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged Muslim families to reject contraception. This is a man who says women shouldn’t be treated equally to men and must have at least three children.

“We will multiply our descendants,” he said.

I am glad President Erdogan has shared his thoughts, but I have some questions for him:

1. Will you give birth to these children yourself?

2. Are you willing to pay for the education, food, and living expenses of every child whose parents were encouraged by your words?

3. Are you willing to mother those children whose mothers died giving birth to them?

Why is it that the Muslim world can’t focus on quality over quantity, I wonder.

Noman Ansari

Noman Ansari

The author is the editor-in-chief of IGN Pakistan, and has been reviewing films and writing opinion pieces for The Express Tribune as well as Dawn for five years. He tweets as @Pugnate (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Keyboard Soldier

    It has become extremely hard for the middle class parents to afford one kid, let alone two, three and four.

    The cost of quality diapers to getting admission in a decent school. It takes away most of the salary of the newly wed couples with young kids.

    This josh condom ad was specifically targeted at the lower-class or the lower-middle class category, where the problem of rabbit-like breeding is even worse.

    As for PEMRA – or for that matter any Gov. office located in Islamabad – is that it is dominated by people who are closely linked to the ISI/GHQ. Even orgs like CDA have serving military men from the ISI.

    ISI cadre (people who work there from Major rank onwards) is extremely Islamic, not ISIS level, not just yet, but close enough to be Taliban-like in terms of thinking.

    ISI/GHQ formulates PEMRA’s policies just like it controls other aspects of Pakistan. A significant part of the Army culture is Saudi-inspired, therefore it is also reflected in the areas where the Army has control over civilians.

    Nobody wants to say this, but the real war in Pakistan is “Civilians vs Islamised GHQ.” There might be a few tolerant generals in the system, but that is extremely rare, and most of the times such scarce breed never gets promoted above Brigadier level.Recommend

  • Rohan

    Why can’t we talk about sex???? Because you’re an Islamic state with a messed up ideologyRecommend

  • Saleem

    I agree with author . We need to control our population growth . Educate people . And instead of having their own kids they should start thinking of adopting a child .Recommend

  • Parvez

    The fault rests with our great grandparents ….who taught our grandparents…..who taught our parents ….. who taught us, that when you realize that you have made a royal mess of matters all you have to do is blame God………and hope things sort themselves out. Right now we are in the hoping stage and the prognosis is not good.Recommend

  • Fida

    Erdogan is The Man Of Actions, Love You True Leader!!!Recommend


    dear writer. i think its the way the population is educated about contraception not contraception itself. i mean people should be educated about contraception and as a whole a healthy family but may be airing about contraception may spoil the picture a little bit.Recommend

  • Shaan

    Dear Numan, If you want to talk about sex, talk to someone in person n who is willing to talk to you on this topic. If I dont want to listen to something for which Im not subcribed, it is my right not to be bothered. I dont want to be bombarded with crappy adverts in prime-time.Recommend

  • Qasim Cheema

    Restriction should be on sexually descriptive ads. Informative ads should be allowed.Recommend

  • AFK

    ‘While it’s our women who suffer from being turned into baby making machines, it is our men who pressure them”

    And where did you get that “it is our men who pressure them”? Have you not heard of mother-in-laws, the sister-in-laws and the endless count of other women who mock them? It is not just the men who pressure. Equal number of women pressure them and in fact far more women mock them. Men mostly pressure them. Recommend

  • AFK

    Not really. Although ISI is one of the most messed up organization in our country, the rest of the army is what is holding this country up. Believe it or not, army is the best in Pakistan’s interest. After that media and some other departments. Recommend

  • AFK

    If you don’t want to be bombarded with crappy adverts, turn off the TV and kindly hide under your bedsheets.Recommend

  • Waqas

    The real question would be. Who give us the right to say that we are born but we will not let other share the world with us. Thats quite hypocritical to me. As long as both parent are physically capable of having multiple kids and raising them in best manner then there is no issue with that.Recommend