India debates Pre-marital Sex


India is a country of contradictions. Pre-marital sex, seems to be one such contradiction which though exists, but is vehemently denied, or even violently suppressed.

Sexual gratification has never seemed so big, appetizing and essential to our lives till recently. In the not-so-distant past we preferred to show sexual intimacy on screen through a hug or holding of hands or the meeting of flowers in a garden. Later, we moved towards pecks on the cheeks and now we seem to graduate to the very apparent lip-locks (at times extremely crude and intended to arouse and nothing more). With Bollywood being the pulse of the nation (the other being cricket and the not-really-racy stock market) sexual gratification seems to be “coming out of the closet” and taking magnanimous proportions in the today’s India.

Never have sex surveys propounded and bashed myths of virginity before marriage as the do now. Every survey enhances the viewpoint that sexual experiences seem to be enjoyed at a young age and the very need to experience the same is taking prime importance in the lives of young India. It appears sexual inexperience over apparent experience is a vice in a marriage.

Why is this happening?

A lot of neo-liberal writers and theorists believe that sexual desires have long been suggested to be pounded down in ambiguity in our nation. I agree that public display of affection might not be the norm in our society but it has never discouraged sexual activities. Even prostitution hasn’t been outlawed in our country resulting in any sort of ban. Then again a segment of people demand an open dialogue over sex which has been discouraged. The belief is that sex is a choice, and limitations to it must be discouraged and as an adult one must have every right to make that decision for themselves.

The lot who believe in restraint from sexual experiences before marriage believe it to be a cultural heritage. They believe that sexual experiences is not something of an indulgence but a karmic right of the husband and wife to go on a physical journey as an assurance of their love for each other. It is an extension of the emotional love for each other. Then again the belief is that marriage means a whole hearted declaration to one another which extends the emotional and physical, thus the debate of abstinence.

With the coming of the new age woman and the very independent thinking of the men, both species now take such decisions on their own. The belief stems from complete self assurance from ones own position in life, be it intellectual or financial. Abstinence is no more an unsaid regulation; in fact it is now a choice. Still there is a population of young Indians, on both sides of the gender, who believe in withholding before the sacred rite of marriage.

At the end of the day, we must weigh our options. In an age independence is the buzzword it seems ridiculous to believe that everyone seems to agree in principle to the unwritten rule of abstinence. What we need to do is to propagate the very idea of ‘safe sex’. It is a woman’s right to be in a sexual practice which is safe and a man’s duty to ensure the same. With HIV-AIDS and teenage or unwanted pregnancies becoming a rage, it is wise to deliver the caution of safe sex rather than absolute abstinence. We must be careful in the way we brand sex. We cannot brand sex as good or bad but we must also air the view that it is a big step and not to be taken lightly. What we must do is to impart knowledge to the youth of the requirements of the body to indulge in such practice.

The inherent contradiction between our values and our independence does produce a very colourful landscape when we talk about pre-marital sex. There are bound to be confusions – should we or should we not? It is safe to go ahead and do what one believes in. It must be remembered that personal principles need to come first rather than the collective principle of the society (which can change because perspectives do change). If there is a choice to be made, you must be sure that the choice will deliver your pride when you look back because a choice you are not proud of must be avoided at all cost.

Sayan Supratim Das

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