Buses of the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) have popped a lot of eyeballs of late. Many of them are plying on the city’s roads with the Miss Universe pageant ads running down their sides, with a suggestive punchline and photos of contestants in bikini tops. This has led the more morally conscionable among the women’s activists not only to raise eyebrows, but also objections to what they think is near-nudity.
After a complaint filed by an advocate-activist attached to the Maharashtra State Commission for Women (MSCW) regarding the advertisements, the transport authority has been asked for an explanation. If they fail to furnish a satisfactory response, action would be taken against them. Advocate Prashant Sane forwarded his complaint to the MSCW on December 6. “The BEST should stop putting up such indecent ads on its buses, as they create a bad influence on schoolchildren and women and encourage them to be immoral.
This may be one of the reasons for rise in violence against females in society. I have also received related complaints and heard kids and women talking about it,” said Sane, who is a former BEST officer. “This has been happening for long and authorities are doing nothing. They just care about earning money, instead of helping build a good environment in society,” he added.
Acting on Sane’s complaint, the women’s commission sent a notice asking the BEST to be present for a meeting on Thursday. At the meeting, MSCW asked the BEST to justify its decision to run with these ads all around town. “The undertaking said that the ad agencies should be held responsible. but the commission said the accountability falls on the BEST,” said Sane, who was present in the meeting.
A N Tripathi, member secretary of MSCW and secretary of Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, who was present for the meeting on Thursday said, “We have taken up the issue after getting the complaints, and have asked for a reply from BEST.
The pictures, which have been used in the ads, were shown to us. This is a crime of obscenity under section 292 of the Indian Penal Code.” A S Tamboli, BEST’s senior public relations officer, said, “We will look into the matter and have a talk with the department concerned.”