A Lagos High Court has ordered manufacturers of condoms to warn users that it cannot guarantee 100 percent safe sex and to add the phrase, “Total abstinence or faithfulness is the best option.”
In her ruling following a suit filed by the incorporated trustees of the Project for Human Development (PHD) against the Society for Family Health (SFH), Justice Taofiquat Oyekan-Abdullahi ruled that all condom ads must include the health risk warning clause established by the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON).
The official APCON warning states, “Condom is not 100 per cent safe. Total abstinence or faithfulness is the best option.”
Along with the ruling on ad content, the judge also directed that condom advertisements must be aired at specific times: between 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. on television and between 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on radio.
The ruling followed a consent judgment the parties reached last month but was only made available to media on Thursday.
The attorney for PHD, Sonnie Ekwowusi, requested a ruling that advertisements by Gold Circle condoms produced by SFH without the APCON health risk warning clause are illegal, in violation of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution as well as the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
Ekwowusi argued that SFH’s condom advertisements give the misleading impression that they are 100 percent effective and that statements declaring that condoms offer “maximum protection” and protect “against infections” are false.
The lawyer also contended that if condoms never had holes, “why would the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) insist that manufacturers test for holes in condoms and consequently set an Acceptable Quality Level (AQL) that if up to four condoms have holes in a batch of 1,000, the batch will be allowed to pass?”
“Condoms, in addition to having possible manufacturing defects, could undergo deterioration during shipping, handling and storage, and even further degradation after purchase by the end user,” he added.
The attorney also introduced into the argument other factors that can contribute to the degradation of latex, and, therefore, to condom failure, namely exposure to sunlight, heat, humidity, pressure, certain spermicides, and atmospheric ozone.
Condoms can also undergo last-minute damage prior to or during use, such as contact with pointed or sharp objects, including fingernails and rings, he said.