A TV advertisement promoting condom use in Kenya has been withdrawn after an outcry by religious leaders, health official Peter Cherutich has said.
Christian and Muslim clerics said the advert encouraged infidelity, rather than safe sex to curb HIV/Aids.
In the government-sponsored advert, a woman in an extra-marital affair is advised to use condoms.
Dr Cherutich told reporters that the advert had been launched because up to 30% of married couples had other partners.
The Kenyan Anglican Church’s Bishop Julius Kalu said the advert, shown on free-to-air TV stations at peak audience times, had promoted extra-marital affairs and sex among school pupils, Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper reports.
“There are better ways of passing useful information to society. This one has certainly failed,” he is quoted as saying.
“It openly propagates immorality, especially when all family members are gathered before television sets, waiting to watch news,” Bishop Kalu said.
In an interview, Dr Cherutich said that while the advert had been withdrawn, he was unapologetic about its message – that it was essential for people to use condoms to prevent the spread of HIV/Aids.
A survey had shown that between 20% and 30% of married couples had other sexual partners, yet a majority of them did not use condoms, said Dr Cherutich, the deputy director of Kenya’s National Aids and STI Control Programme.
Kenya’s Muslim religious body, the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK), also condemned TV stations for showing the one-minute-long advert.
“The advertisement depicts this nation as Sodom and Gomorra and not one that values the institution of marriage and family,” Sheikh Mohammed Khalifa, CIPK’s organising secretary, told Kenya’s Business Daily newspaper.
The BBC’s Anne Soy in the capital, Nairobi, says many conservative Kenyans supported religious leaders in opposing the advert.
Some parents said they found it embarrassing to watch the advert with their children, and switched channels when it appeared, she reports.
The advert was part of a series of anti-HIV campaigns that health officials have been running in Kenya for years.
Its slogan board said it had been sponsored by Kenya’s health ministry, USAid and UKAid – an apparent reference to the UK government’s department of international development, our correspondent says.
More than 80% of Kenyans are Christians, with Muslims forming the second biggest religious group.
What the advert says:
Two women are walking to the market.
Woman 1 asks Woman 2 how she and her husband are. Woman 2 says her husband has become a drunkard lately and spends most of his time at the bar.
Woman 1 asks her about “the other one” and Woman 2 glances at a man selling fruit nearby, implying he is her lover. Woman 2 says she is happy with him, even though she does not spend much time with him.
Woman 1 then asks if she uses a condom and Woman 2 is quiet, but looks embarrassed.
The advert ends with Woman 1 advising her that it is important to use a condom to protect herself and her loved ones, as a school girl runs towards Woman 2 and hugs her. The final tag-line is “Weka Condom Mpangoni”, meaning “factor a condom in your plans”.