Prime Minister Hun Sen criticized a televised condom advertisement Wednesday morning, saying that it was offensive and motivated by pro- fit, not the desire to prevent the spread of HIV-AIDS.
The ad for Population Services International’s Number One Plus lubricated condoms centered on a fashion show at which models become overtly affectionate with two male spectators after seeing that they have the condoms in their jacket pockets.
“One woman just saw a condom and then she accompanied the man…. It shows that Cambodian women are appealing to have sex,” said Hun Sen speaking at a medical school graduation Wednesday morning. “They are educating men to be bad guys,” he added.
“It seems they are not about the campaign to prevent [AIDS]. It is a commercial advertisement to sell condoms…. It is awful,” Hun Sen continued, adding that he felt ashamed when the ad piqued the interest of children.
“Some children have already asked, ‘What is this, papa?’” he said. “Soon my grandchildren will ask me.”
Chris Jones, PSI country representative, said that Washington-based PSI is a non-profit organization that has been working to provide health products and information through Cambodia’s private sectors channels, like small shops and pharmacies, since 1993.
“There are no commercial interests,” he said.
He declined to comment on the advertisement directly, but said he stands by PSI’s decision to take the ad off the air as of the end of September—a decision reached prior to Hun Sen’s remarks.
He said PSI tries to execute its communication campaigns “in a culturally appropriate manner and in alignment with the government of Cambodia.”
In the future, PSI will be veering away from mass media and focusing more on targeted, person-to-person outreach efforts.
Mean Chhi Vun, director of the Health Ministry’s National Center for HIV-AIDS, Dermatology and STIs, declined to comment.