Karma Nirvana honour killing advert was not distressing, rules Advertising Standards Authority

The advertisement in Metro was part of the charity's Remember Shafilea campaign to raise awareness of 'honour killings'

Karma Nirvana's advert
Karma Nirvana's advert

The Advertising Standards Authority has rejected complaints about an advert by the charity Karma Nirvana, which featured an image of a woman with a transparent plastic bag over her head.

The ASA said today that it had rejected six complaints against a press advert that was part of Karma Nirvana’s Remember Shafilea campaign to raise awareness of so-called honour killings. The campaign the case of 17-year-old Shafilea Ahmed, who was suffocated by her parents in 2003.   

The advert, which appeared in the Metro newspaper in July, attracted six complaints that its content was distressing and one that challenged whether the advert condoned or encouraged an unsafe practice.

The ASA’s ruling says the charity, which supports women in forced marriages, had told the watchdog that the motivation behind the advert was to highlight a growing area of concern in the UK and honour the memory of women murdered by their families in the name of honour.

The charity told the ASA that the decision to run the advert had not been taken lightly and it had been put together with two close friends of Ahmed and a police officer who was involved in investigating the crime. None of those involved had found the campaign offensive, distressing or distasteful, the charity told the ASA.

Karma Nirvana recognised that the advert was hard-hitting, but told the ASA that there was a balance to be struck between it being hard-hitting and not conveying a strong message.

The ASA said it did not consider the image to be overly graphic or violent and that it was, in the context of the campaign, unlikely to cause unjustifiable distress.

It also rejected the concern that the advert might encourage children to emulate what was happening in the image.

Jasvinder Sanghera, chief executive of Karma Nirvana, told Third Sector she was delighted the advert had been cleared by the ASA.

She said she had not been surprised that the advert had attracted complaints, but the charity had worked hard to defend it.

"If people feel offended by it or it makes them feel a little bit squeamish, I am sorry, but I hope that they can see the need for education on this subject," she said. "Sometimes we need a stark image to get the message across."

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