Social media users have welcomed President Arif Alvi’s message on family planning and birth control and has commended his attempt to destigmatize a sensitive topic.
In a tweet on Monday, President Arif Alvi shared an advertisement which showed the symbolism of wrapping birth control related products in brown paper bags and suggested that the same covers also blocked the critical thinking skills of people.
Successive clips in the video showed how people stigmatize and hush the topic of family planning in daily life. Dr Alvi commented on the video and said that national and maternal health were tied together and that it was imperative to discuss birth control more openly. He added that existing children needed attention and the topic should be made a public priority.
Some Twitter users were quick to get behind the president’s message to destigmatize the sensitive rhetoric. Renowned lawyer Nighat Dad said that the use of the brown envelope was simple but conveyed the message of birth control effectively.
خاکی لفافوں والی سوچ کی حوصلہ شکنی کر کہ اپنے خاندان اور معاشرے کو صحت مند بنائیں اسکو کہتے ہیں آسان اور حقیقت پہ مبنی موثر پیغام رسانی – https://t.co/LVIQ5WWUqe
— Nighat Dad (@nighatdad) September 13, 2021
Human rights expert Daanika Kamal said that the message around ‘sexual health, reproductive health and family planning’ was highly warranted. Kamal hoped that the advertisement would be disseminated through traditional media as well.
excellent – much, much needed messaging around sexual health, reproductive health and family planning. hope it is circulated through mainstream media. https://t.co/Deu1EF10lS
— d kamal (@daanistan) September 13, 2021
Journalist Amber Rahim Shamsi responded to Dr Alvi and said the conceptualization of ‘social taboos’ in the ad was ‘fantastic’.
Fantastic messaging on the social taboos around birth control 👏 https://t.co/qPz1B56xBC
— Amber Rahim Shamsi (@AmberRShamsi) September 13, 2021
Fashion designer Maheen Ghani said it was ‘heartening’ to see such thought-provoking content.
Excellent message for family planning. Whoever wrote the concept deserves applause! https://t.co/NPWFJyzdmi
— Nadia (@novocainerush) September 13, 2021
While several appreciated the president’s tweet, some felt the message affronted Islam.
A Twitter user was quick to criticize the president for sharing it and asked him how he would face God. He added that it was the government’s job to ensure better facilities for children instead of asking that people had fewer children.
آپ آخرت میں کیا جواب دیں گے
حکومت کو فکر کرنا ہے کہ افرادی قوت کیسے اور کہاں استعمال کی جاسکتی ہے ناکہ کم بچے پیدا کرو
لوٹ کسوٹ ختم کریں سستا اور فوری انصاف دیں پھر آپ خود لوگوں کو کہیں گے بچے پیدا کرو
اللہ ہم سب کو اور آپ کو کامل علم عطا فرمائیں
— Salman khan (@salmanmomand1) September 13, 2021
Another user said that Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) had sung laurels of their own regime when they came to power in 2018 but they did not follow through on promises to reduce inflation and poverty. He said that the government was focusing on a new ‘spectacle’ with the ad instead.
پی ٹی آئی نے الیکشن 2018 میں جو قوم کو سنہرے خواب اور سبز باغ دکھائے تھے ان پر ایک فیصد بھی عمل نہیں ہورہا ۔
قوم کو غربت مہنگائی اور بدامنی سے محفوظ رکھنے اور ترقی و خوشحالی دینے کے بجائے ایک نیا تماشا شروع کیا جارہا ہے۔ https://t.co/fKt4bctE0R
— Rashid Qutub (@RashidQutub) September 13, 2021
A self-proclaimed political activist added that governments often crunched population related numbers to gloss over their own inefficiencies. He lambasted the advertisement as a product of ‘western’ and ‘secular’ thinking and said that birth control had no place in Islam as God predestined resources for people born in the country.
حکومت و نظام اپنی نااہلی اور بودے پن کر پردہ ڈالنے کے لئے تعداد کا بہانہ لیتی ہے دوسرا مغربی سیکولر سوچ کی بنیاد "وسائل کی کمی" پر قائم جس وجہ سے فیملی پلاننگ کی بات کی جاتی ہے جبکہ اللہ تعالٰی نے ہر روح کا پیدائش سے قبل رزق متعین کردیا ہے۔
— Abdul Hadi Kaim Khani (@abdulhadikk) September 13, 2021
The advertisement under discussion was produced by Khair Khwah, a communications company that has an aim to make taboo topics accessible. Their video brought forth the message of population control in the country through effective birth control.
According to the World Bank, Pakistan’s population stands at a burgeoning 216.6 million as of 2019. A 2016. Oxfam report on family planning also found that discussions around birth control have long been marred by socio-cultural factors in Pakistan. The report noted that lack of knowledge and motivation to adopt better reproductive health practices have frequently stalled public discourse around population control.