Bahrain to tear down raunchy ads
Manama, October 25, 2008
Advertisements across a large area of Bahrain could soon be torn down for being too sexy.
The Central Municipal Council is drafting a law that would allow them to ban advertising that is 'too provocative', saying it was equivalent to 'pornography', said a report in our sister publication, the Gulf Daily News.
It is also seeking a clampdown on lingerie shops that display 'immoral' skimpy underwear in their windows, which councillors have claimed flouts religious values.
'Street advertisements are getting outrageous,' said councillor Sadiq Rabea'a, who co-sponsored the proposal.
'Some are crossing the line with women wearing tight-fitting dresses, dancing around and legalising sexual scenes for our children to witness.'
The crackdown would affect shops and advertising across a large portion of Bahrain covered by the council, including Riffa, A'ali, Salmabad, Isa Town, Sitra, Buhair, Sanad and Tubli.
Councillor Abdulrazzaq Al Hattab also sponsored the initiative, saying his constituency in Riffa - which includes the popular Bukuwara high street - was a hotbed of illicit imagery.
'We need to stop this and find a law to put it in order,' he said. 'Showcasing lingerie for everyone to see is against our Islamic culture and is considered immoral.'
However, the council has been told it is powerless to take action against lingerie shops, which come under the remit of the Industry and Commerce Ministry.
Municipalities and Agriculture Ministry legal adviser Dr Hamada Abdulsalam added there was no law that grants councillors power to remove advertisements deemed to be 'immoral'.
He said that municipality officials in each area could give permission for billboards to be erected, but could not dictate the content of the advertisements.
'There has to be some theoretical concepts defining immorality and immoral advertisements so a law can be formed,' he said.
'Eventually, all companies and advertising agencies would follow it and if they failed to do so they would be punished.'
The issue has now been referred to the council's technical and financial committee, which will study the proposal and present a report at the council's next meeting.
This is not the first time a council has complained about lingerie shops displaying sexy outfits in shop windows.
The Muharraq Municipal Council raised similar concerns in 2004, saying youths were lingering around shops to ogle realistic mannequins dressed in skimpy outfits.
A new council was elected in 2007, but current vice-chairman Abdulnasser Al Mahmeed claimed it was still receiving complaints and had alerted both the Information Ministry and the Industry and Commerce Ministry.
'We received a lot of complaints from residents about mannequins dressed in lingerie and showcased in the Muharraq suq, but we cannot do anything as it's the responsibility of the Information Ministry and the Industry and Commerce Ministry,' he said.
The Manama Municipal Council says it has no plans to discuss the issue. - TradeArabia News Service