Indecent Representation of Women in Advertisements


Shree Rastogi, B.Com LLB 3rd Year, SRMU

In today’s modern era there is an increase in new communication technology, so the power of mass media has grown dramatically. Its branches like Newspaper, television, magazines, satellite television and cables and Internet are spread all over the World and we can say that their accessibility is at every home and towns. Many issues and trending news are being printed and displayed but along with them some inappropriate and indecent advertisements are also being displayed which are not suitable for our society, it shows the indecency of women. Despite being spreading awareness properly through speeches and articles, they just show the nudity and embarrassing pictures and videos.

There are some Sections under Indian Penal Code those are Section 292 (Sale, etc., of obscene books, etc., Under Section 293 (Sales, etc., of obscene objects of young person.) Under Section 294 (That is for obscene acts and songs.).  There are different punishments for these Sections under IPC. The terms obscenity, indecent or vulgar are difficult to define as they are directly linked to the Moral Value in the society. Obscenity deals with sale, hire, distribution, public exhibition, circulation, export, import or advertisement, etc. of any matter which is obscene. It is important or need to protect society against potential harm that may flow from obscene material and to ensure respect for freedom of expression which has to be balanced with flow of information.

In the case of Chandrakant kalyandas kokodar vs. State of Maharashtra1 it was held that there was no fixed rule to determine obscenity. “The concept of obscenity would differ from country to country depending on the standards of morals of contemporary society.

In spite of all these provisions of the Indian Penal Code, there is growing of indecent representation of women references to women publications, particularly in advertisements which have the effect of criticize unfairly to women  and derogatory to women. Therefore the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986 was legislated and prohibits indecent representation of women through advertisements, books, writings, painting, figures, or in any other manner.


  1. AIR (1970) 1396, (1970) SCR (2)80.

In Section 2 there is a definition advertisement and indecent representation of women. In Section 3 of this Act it states the Prohibition of advertisements containing indecent representation of women. In Section 4: Prohibition of publication or sending by post of books, pamphlets, etc. containing indecent representation of women. Any person who contravenes the provisions of section 3 and 4 shall be punishable under section-6 of this Act.

Women are being shown in indecent manner on advertisements day by day and either they are being banned or hardly any action is been taken. The National Commission of Women has suggested modifications in the Act and elaborates upon ways to strengthen it and make it workable so that objectives can be achieved easily.

The Constitution of India in its Preamble, Fundamental Rights, Fundamental Duties and Directive Principles not only grand’s equality to women, but also empowers the state to adopt measures of positive discrimination in favor of women. Within a frame work of a democratic polity, our laws, development policies, plans and programs have aimed at women’s advancement in different spheres. India has also ratified various International Conventions and human right instruments committing to secure equal rights of women. Key among them is ratification of the Conventions on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1993. Its our Fundamental Duty to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities; to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women under article 51(A) (e) of Indian Constitution.

As every person has a Right to Protection of life and Personal Liberty under Article 21 of Indian Constitution, women have inherent right to dignity, there is a case Chandra Raj Kumari vs Police Commissioner, Hyderabad2, it was held that right to live includes right to live with dignity or decency and therefore holding of beauty contest is repugnant to dignity or decency of women and offends Article 21 of The Constitution. Article 19 (1) guarantees freedom of speech and expression of individual as well as press, this right conferred by the Constitution has triggered various problems.


2.1996 Cri LJ 2725 (Del).


The Information Technology Act, 2000: Under Section 67 of this Act aids in the control of advertisements which has found its life in the new media- the Internet and states publishing, or transmitting, or causing to be published, pornographic materials in electronic form.

The Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994:  Under Section 22 of this act, it talks about the Prohibition of advertisement relating to pre-conception and pre-natal determination of sex and punishment for contravention.

By Publication of sex oriented matter in newspaper or any kind of advertisement is not keeping balance with the protection of the children from harmful and disturbing materials.


Advertisements like use of condoms, energy pills, Kama sutra, perfumes, in fact some clothing ads as well show lots of nudity of women and irrelevant matter; other than television even if we serve internet there are some pop-ups that come in between our serving unwantedly ads like call girls, shopping for under garments, other pills etc., these are totally embarrassing. Although we have so many Laws to stop them but do they really being stopped? No, some commercials do get banned in India but this indecency of women is just getting higher by day.

Advertisements that are being shown think their motto is for our awareness but irony is they totally disobey our culture and moral values. The dignity and decency of a women must be maintained in our society then only our children, even youths will be away from all those nudity and indecencies. True, women must get full freedom and equality but it surly don’t mean to give any message for any kind of sexual violence and nature of appeal to strong sexual instincts to sell products or for promoting media. One of the most controversial issue is balancing the need to protect society against to potential harm that may flow from indecent representation of women in advertisement materials, and the need to ensure respect for freedom of expression and to preserve a free flow of information and ideas. Advertisements are for us to get knowledge about issues, products, rules etc. but now-a-days it’s just a part of Business.





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