Italy to women: Hurry up and get knocked up

Several ads are aimed just at men, including one with a bent cigarette where a penis would be on a fingers-for-legs person urging them not to damage their sperm by smoking. Another shows an empty banana peel while touting the five rules for protecting and maintaining male fertility. There was also, briefly, an online “fertility game” where the players dodged obstacles to fertility like cigarettes and alcohol.

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It might seem like an innocent enough idea to jumpstart Italy’s declining birthrate, which is the second lowest in Europe after Malta with just 1.37 children per woman, and has been declining rapidly, falling by 2.9 percent between 2014 and 2015.

But the campaign has offended those of childbearing years because it simplifies what has become a difficult decision for many Italians because of high unemployment (35 percent for under-30s) and a clear lack of well-paid jobs. Roberto Saviano, author and political columnist, called it “an insult to all those who are not able to conceive and those who would like to but don’t have jobs.”

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