One Indian psychologist told the Washington Post, that Indian traditions have moved back and forth "between eroticism and sexual repressiveness." Sex is not a topic that people talk openly about in India. Dating still considered taboo by some people. Casual sex is very rare, even in the hippest of crowds. Most couple have not even held hands before they are married. Even so some Hindu temples have very sexually explicit images on their walls.

Hindus are not circumcised. Muslim are. A coming of age ceremony is still held in some areas for girls when they reach puberty. It traditionally meant that the girl had reached marriageable and was marked with the girl being presented her first sari. Studies have shown that married Indian men are more likely to be faithful than men from may other cultures. In the old days marble “jalis”, or screens, were used by Indian princes to keep eyes off their wives.

Married couples are discouraged from having sex. One textbook on being a dutiful housewife reads; “You can be celibate even when you’re married.” The writes then cites a Hindu saint that married couples only need t have sex once in their lifetimes. “If they are not happy with that, then once a year.” Too sex tehs author says “reduces your lifespan.”

Many people are surprised AIDS has spread so fast in India, a country known for its conservatism and emphasis on monogamy and female purity. In reality, India is less sexually constrained than many have assumed. There is a large populations of migrant workers who have sex with prostitutes. One truck driver told the Washington Post he visited four or five prostitutes a week to satisfy his voracious appetite which he said was caused by eating hot, spicy food.

Contraceptives in India

Contraceptive prevalence rate: 54.8 percent (2007/08, CIA World Factbook). This is up from 48 percent in the early 2000s and 37.5 percept in the early 1990s. Abortion is legal, condoms are advertised on colorful billboards, and government health services offer small bounties for patients undergoing vasectomies and tubal ligations. In some regions, most notably Kerala, better health care and higher infant survival rates are associated with lowered fertility rates. Two thirds of Kerala women use birth control compared to 40 percent nationwide. The population is relatively stable in Kerala.

In spite of the availability of various contraceptive methods like sterilization, IUD, condoms, hormonal pills, and other temporary methods, the adopters of the program mostly opt for sterilization, more often tubal ligation or tubectomy. A packet of three condoms sold for lest than two cents in India in the 1990s.

Type of birth control used: 71 percent sterilization, mostly women. Less than 7 percent of married women use condoms or the birth control pill, despite their wide availability. Family planning advocates want the RU486 abortion pill to be legalized. RU486 can cause side effects such as bleeding and should be administered under proper medical supervision.

The Indian government has only made token attempts to introduce condoms and birth control pills. A program for vasectomies for men and intrauterine devices for women failed in part because the health infrastructure could not provide adequate sanitary condition, medical training for health workers and follow-up care and many patient died of infections and tetanus. Sterilization of women has been selected because it is the simplest and surest method of birth control. [Source: Molly Moore, Washington Post, August 21, 1994]

Beliefs About Contraceptives in India

Some women in India tried to avoid pregnancy by fumigating their vagina with steam from a special kettle. Women in Egypt and India have used suppositories made highly acidic elephant or crocodile dung as a contraceptive. The acid acts as a spermicide. To encourage women to use more conventional methods the New Delhi branch of the Family Planning Clinic has offered instruction on the latest methods of pedicure.

Jayaji Krishna Nath, M.D. and Vishwarath R. Nayar wrote in the Encyclopedia of Sexuality: “Because of widely varying customs, beliefs, and the very low level of involvement of the wife in the decision-making process, it is the women who ultimately are adopting the method of contraception. It is not surprising to know in a male-dominated society, especially in rural areas, that people generally perceive that the program is mostly meant for the women folk as they are bearers of the children. Some common beliefs, like “using a contraception reduces a man’s masculinity” and “contraception impairs the health of working men,” also acts as a barrier for the adoption of the program by men. [Source: Jayaji Krishna Nath, M.D., and Vishwarath R. Nayar, Encyclopedia of Sexuality */]

“Methodwise data of adopters generally reveals that the temporary methods are mostly utilized by people with relatively high educational backgrounds and those living in urban areas. The condom, a simple reversible and nonchemical method of contraception, is widely accepted by couples in the younger age group, mostly for spacing pregnancies.” */

Virginity and Marriage in India

Marriages have traditionally taken place when the couple is very young. Girls are expected to be virgins when they get married. In the early 2000s, more than half of Indian women married at 18 or younger and more than 90 percent were virgins when they got married.

After Hindu children reach puberty, the sexes are separated so there is little interaction between teenage girls and boys. According to one survey in the 1990s less than nine percent of all newlyweds had premarital sex and less than a third did it on their wedding night. A survey by India Today in 2004 found that 72 percent of men expected their wives to be virgins when they are married and 77 percent said they would not marry a women who had admitted having sex.

“Kanya” is word used to describe virginity. It is equated with purity, an important element of Hinduism. A woman can only marry if she is pure. A divorced or widowed woman is no longer pure. She is polluted. If she marries she would pollute the man she is married to. Parents who present a pure daughter to marriage earn great merit.

Concepts of Sexuality in India

Jayaji Krishna Nath, M.D. and Vishwarath R. Nayar wrote in the Encyclopedia of Sexuality: “While sexual urges had to be subordinated to social norms in the joint-family system, except for rare rebellious behavior or outbursts, the present newly found freedom has instigated more openness and casualness in matters of sexual behavior. Expressions and feelings that would have been termed scandalous and in need of being tamed to adhere to socially accepted rules, values, and practices, are now accepted as natural. [Source: Jayaji Krishna Nath, M.D., and Vishwarath R. Nayar, Encyclopedia of Sexuality */]

“The fate of sexuality within marriage is likely to come under an evil constellation of stars. Physical love will tend to be a shame-ridden affair, a sharp stabbing of lust with little love and even less passion. Indeed the code of sexual conduct for the householder-husband fully endorses this expectation. Stated concisely in the smritis (the Law codes), elaborated in the puranas which are not only collections of myths, but also contain chapters on the correct coduct of daily life), modified for local usage by the various kinds of religiosi, the thrust of the message seems to be “No sex in marriage, we’re Indian.” Kakar 1989:19). */

“According to Hindu tradition, a husband should only approach his wife sexually during her ritu (season), a period of sixteen days within the menstrual cycle. But intercourse is forbidden on six of these sixteen days, the first four days, and the eleventh and thirteenth. This leaves only ten days for conjugal relations, but since the all-important sons are conceived only on even nights and daughters on uneven nights, the days for conjugal relations shrinks to five. Then there are the parvas, the moonless nights and those of the full moon when sexual relations lead either to the birth of atheist sons (Brahma Purana) or the “hell of feces and urine” (Vishnu Purana). Add to these taboos, the many festival days for gods and ancestors when erotic pleasures are forbidden. Sex is also beyond the pale during the day. */

“There is a general disapproval of the erotic aspect of married life, a disapproval that cannot be disregarded as a mere medieval relic; this general disapproval of the erotic, even in marriage, continues to inform contemporary attitudes. This is quite understandable since changes in sexuality occur at a more gradual pace than transformations in the political and social sphere; sexual time, as Kakar suggests, beats at a considerably slower pace than its chronological counterpart. Sexual taboos are still so strong in some Hindu communities that many women, especially those in the higher castes, do not have a name for their genitals (Kakar 1989, 20). */

“Cultural taboos may not, despite their pervasive presence in Indian society, affect the sexual expressions of men and women across the economic and caste spectra of India. But they can, and apparently do increase the conflicts around sexuality, sour it for many, and generally contribute to its impoverishment. This can effectively block many men and women from a deep, fulfilling experience of sexual love. Accordingly, the considerable sexual misery one can deduce as being reflected in the Indian marriage and family from cultural ideals, prohibitions, and modern fiction, the sexual woes expressed by middle- and upper-class women who seek relief in psychotherapy is also evidenced in the interviews Sudhir Kakar and others have conducted with low-caste, “untouchable” women in the poorest areas of Delhi. */

“Most of these women portrayed their experiences with sexual intercourse as a furtive act in a cramped and crowded room, lasting barely a few minutes and with a marked absence of physical or emotional caressing. It was a duty, an experience to be submitted to, often from a fear of beating. None of the women removed their clothes during intercourse since it is considered shameful to do so (Kakar 1989, 21). Despite these pervasive negative images of the conflict between the sexes in marriage, and the negative view of women and sexuality, it must be pointed out that Indian sexual relations are not devoid of regular pauses in the conflict between man and woman. Tenderness, whether this be an affair with the soul of a Mukesh song, that is much quieter than a plunge into the depths of erotic passion known in Western culture, or sexual ecstasy of a husband and wife who have found their way through the forest of sexual taboos, does exist in India (Kakar 1989, 22-23). */

Sex Among Children in India

Jayaji Krishna Nath, M.D. and Vishwarath R. Nayar wrote in the Encyclopedia of Sexuality: “Indian children are pampered as much as possible, often until age six or seven. Before puberty, a natural approach to sexuality and nudity prevails, especially in rural areas. Daughters and sons are carefully prepared for their future domestic roles as mothers and fathers. Women are considered to be much more skilled than males in love and sexual pleasures. [Source: Jayaji Krishna Nath, M.D., and Vishwarath R. Nayar, Encyclopedia of Sexuality */]

“At puberty, most boys and girls are segregated. In some regions of India, pubescent girls are not even allowed to enter a house where a single young man is present. Sexual views and behavior are somewhat more natural and less inhibited in India’s rural villages, according to Dr. Promilla Kapur, a research psychologist and sociologist at New Delhi’s India International Center. Some tribal groups practice totally free sex among adolescents. */

“Nowadays, with the advent of various satellite television programs, children are exposed at their early ages to various programs, including considerable sexually related material. This exposure often results in conflicting responses for girls raised in a society that represses or ignores female sexuality. In rural areas, adults sometimes talk loudly about their sexual experiences in the presence of children, and this provides opportunities for the young men to think more about sex. In urban areas, especially cities where housing shortage is very acute, adults in public places like parks and cinema theaters generally satisfy their sexual feeling through hugging or other noncoital sexual practices. These acts also provide learning opportunities for the younger ones. Sexual play, such as looking at another child’s buttocks or genitals, genital touching games, sharing a bed with a child of the opposite sex, etc., likewise provides children with opportunities for sexual exploration; the parents would not necessarily be aware of these acts of their children.” */

Sex Among Adolescents in India

Jayaji Krishna Nath, M.D. and Vishwarath R. Nayar wrote in the Encyclopedia of Sexuality: “Sexual activity at an early age but within marriage is common in India. The most obvious health risk of teenage sex among the young is pregnancy for girls who are not yet physically matured. Further, if the pregnancy is unwanted or illegitimate, the health hazards are likely to be compounded by the social, psychological, and economic consequences. In their study of infant and childhood mortality, K. Mahadevan et al. (1985) found that the mean age of women at first conception was only 16 years; further, they found that infant mortality was very high for the first, followed by the second birth order, and then tapered down subsequently. The findings reveal that the high incidence of infant mortality among the first two birth orders may be mainly due to teenage pregnancy and childbirth. In traditional societies where mothers marry young, there is family support for the young parents although medical risks remain high. But in today’s transitional society, the family support is gone, and many times the teenage pregnancies lead to abortion and thus have dangerous consequences. [Source: Jayaji Krishna Nath, M.D., and Vishwarath R. Nayar, Encyclopedia of Sexuality */]

Adolescents in India today face a number of problems related to changing value systems and social expectations. The sexual world of adolescents is becoming increasingly complex. In traditional Indian society, adolescents were initiated into their sexual roles, more or less, in a clearly defined period and by a series of ceremonies and rites. As in some other cultures, these included instruction on their sex roles, marriage customs, sexual morality, and acceptable sexual behavior. But with the influence of Western culture, the present generation of youth are facing a number of problems that are ultimately forcing them to violate the traditional norms as laid down by the society. */

“When Kakar and Chowdhary (1970) examined some aspects of sexual behavior among young men prior to marriage, they found that a lack of adequate information and opportunities prompted these young people to turn to literature (often pornographic), to experimentation with prostitutes, friends, or relatives of the opposite or same sex, to covert observation of sexual activities of others, and to masturbation. Reddy and his colleagues, in a 1983 study of young people, found that the sample youth had their first sexual experience between the ages of 15 and 24 years. Homosexual activities were also reported in this study: 38 percentage of women in the sample reported that their first sexual activity had been with a partner of the same sex. The Family Planning Foundation of India undertook a study in 1990 among teenagers (between 14 and 17 years) and found that about one fourth of them expressed their acceptance of premarital sexual contact, “if the boy and the girl were actually in love.” While a good number of respondents were aware of at least one contraceptive method, they had very little precise knowledge. Men were found to be more liberal in their views than women. */

“Mane and Maitra (1992) have rightly inferred that “relatively little is known about the sexual behavior and attitudes towards different aspects and forms of sexual activity in India.” With changing conditions in India, the opportunities for risk-taking behavior among adolescents seem to be increasing. Coping with sex is a growing problem for young people. Today’s teenagers are faced with an ever-widening gap between the age at which they are physically ready to have sexual intercourse and the age at which it is culturally acceptable for them to do so. Youngsters are in fact often sandwiched between a near-obsessive preoccupation with sex in the media and a veritable wall of silence from other sources of information on the subject. Sex education, including family planning and reproductive health management, has to be the cornerstone of any youth program that is attempted. The social, psychological, and emotional consequences to early sexual involvement also need to be carefully explained.” */

Premarital Sex in India

Jayaji Krishna Nath, M.D. and Vishwarath R. Nayar wrote in the Encyclopedia of Sexuality: Traditionally, premarital sex activity was controlled in India. As the marriages were mostly arranged by elders, premarital sex was not the accepted practice. Although premarital sex among the tribal societies of India has been widely reported, there is very little if any reliable data on this topic in either the rural or urban areas. Since marriage is strongly endorsed for all adults in India, the number of men and women remaining unmarried is very negligible. With the rapid increase in urbanization and industrialization, more and more young people are moving out of the rural areas into the urban areas, mainly in search of a livelihood. Mostly they move to urban areas by leaving their families, sometimes including a spouse, in their place of origin, because of the lack of proper housing facilities and the high cost of living in their new home. In the absence of their spouses, many married men turn to the brothel houses for satisfying their sexual urges.[Source: Jayaji Krishna Nath, M.D., and Vishwarath R. Nayar, Encyclopedia of Sexuality */]

Although premarital sex is relatively uncommon does occur. Although the male may escape social repudiation if such liaisons become known, the female may suffer lasting damage to her own reputation and bring dishonor to her family. Further, if a woman is sexually linked with a man of lower caste status, the woman is regarded as being irremediably polluted, "like an earthen pot." A male so sullied can be cleansed of his temporary pollution, "like a brass pot," with a ritual bath. [Source: Library of Congress]

A study by Savara and Sridhar in 1992 showed that 30 percent of the respondents had experienced premarital sex, while 41 percent of unmarried men and 33 percent of married men had their first intercourse before attaining 20 years. Krishna and Nayer wrote: “In another study, they found that about one quarter of married women had sex with their husbands before marriage. Other premarital sexual partners for women were mostly friends, relatives, and work acquaintances. A majority of the respondents - 43 percent - agreed that casual sex is all right, and it is acceptable to sleep with someone you have no plan to marry. It is clear that, although premarital sexual relationship is considered generally as immoral in contemporary India, the majority of the young generation do not find it objectionable. A gradual increasing openness about sex in films, video music, television, magazines, etc., is clearly influencing the young in India to be more adventurous about premarital sex than their parents and elders were. */

Masturbation, Oral Sex and Sexual Dysfunctions in India

Jayaji Krishna Nath, M.D. and Vishwarath R. Nayar wrote in the Encyclopedia of Sexuality: Vaginal intercourse is the norm for marital sexual activity. The incidence of fellatio and cunnilingus is not known in Indian context. However oral sex appears to be relatively uncommon. Masturbation is generally unacceptable among girls. For boys however it is considered a preparation for mature sex life. Though boys at the younger ages may masturbate together without shame, at little more mature ages, they all give it up. This seems to be particularly so in the case of married men. In recent years, the availability of sexually explicit books, magazines, and videos has also acted as major contributory factor for male autoerotic activities. [Source: Jayaji Krishna Nath, M.D., and Vishwarath R. Nayar, Encyclopedia of Sexuality */]

The concept of sexual dysfunction in Indian context is defined differently with reference to the persons socioeconomic and demographic backgrounds. Generally, it is differentiated for men and women, young and old, rich and poor, and able-bodied and disabled persons. There are no legal or other restrictions on who may practice as a psychosocial or sexual therapist in India. Most of the persons with sexual problems who feel that they need some treatment, seek help related to their symptoms. What sexual therapy there is available deals with symptom relief and is generally regarded as successful if this is the outcome. Though there is no clear-cut, government-funded, psychosexual therapy services available in India, most of the health and family planning clinics provide one or more of these services to their clients. Counseling by some of the marriage counseling services, especially in cities, are also widely reported in the society. Quacks who pose as very knowledgeable in sexual therapy, and widely advertise about the effectiveness of their treatment, are commonly seen, especially in rural areas and small towns. Because many people do not understand the need for qualified training of sexual therapists, these fraudulent therapists and their clinics attract many of those who need proper counseling and cash in on their weaknesses. */

“A prevailing Victorian sexual repression, left over from colonial times, still makes it impossible for many married couples to function well sexually, or even to function at all. Sex clinics around New Delhi and other large cities typically cater mostly to men, and offer advice, hormone injections, and herbal remedies at a cost of up to about $500 for a full course of treatment. There is no organized data available on such incidences, nor on the effectiveness of their treatments. Moreover, with the topic of sex being a taboo in Indian society, people generally do not discuss their problems openly with others. In the process, they easily become victims of such quacks in their communities.” */

Unusual Sex Customs and Strange Sex Stories in India

Indian men are said to be easy to seduce from behind with sensual back rubs and are powerfully aroused at the sight of a red paste called “alta” smeared around a woman’s foot. For some tribes in India the word "kiss" means "smell." A small spiny-tailed lizard found in Rajasthan used throughout India in a thick sexual lubricant produced by shaman is now almost extinct.

Some Indians have funny ideas about when is the best time to have sex. According to the famous yoga teacher Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, couples should not engage in sex between the forth and 16th day of the woman’s menstrual cycle. Sex is preferable at night when the man is breathing through his night time (left) nostril and should be avoided in the day even if the man is breathing through the night time nostril. One sadhu at the Pushkar Fair is famous for lift an 80-pound brick with his penis.

In 1995, a 36-year—old woman who suspected her husband of having an affair, drugged and strangled him and then cut off his penis with a kitchen knife. The next she showed up in a court room with the penis in a paper bag and surrendered it. After being arrested she said, "I have no regrets. He deserved much more than this.

In 1997, health authorities is the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh decided to launch a campaign against population growth and AIDS enlisting the help of 55,000 village barbers to dispense information about condoms. One health official told AFP, "On average in rural India, men spend about 30 minutes with their barbers. So he is the best person to provide advise and counseling.

Nigora: the Erotic Importance of the Brother-in-Law

Jayaji Krishna Nath, M.D. and Vishwarath R. Nayar wrote in the Encyclopedia of Sexuality: For a time in Indian social history, the custom of nigora officially recognized the erotic importance of the brother-in-law - in the sense that he would or could have sexual relations with his elder’s brother’s widow. The nigora custom has been traced back to the times of the Rig-veda where a man, identified by the commentators as the brother-in-law, is described as extending his hand in promised marriage to a widow inclined to share her husband’s funeral pyre. [Source: Jayaji Krishna Nath, M.D., and Vishwarath R. Nayar, Encyclopedia of Sexuality */]

“Although the custom gradually fell into disuse, especially with the prohibition of widow remarriage, the psychological core of niyoga, namely the mutual awareness of a married woman and her younger brother-in-law as potential or actual sexual partners, remains very much an actuality even today (Kakar 1989, 13). Kakar has added a perspective from clinical practice, noting that women who are on terms of sexual intimacy with a brother-in-law rarely express any feelings of guilt. Their anxiety is occasioned more by his leaving home or his impending marriage, which the woman perceives as an end to her sensual and emotional life (Kakar 1989, 13-14).” */

Pornography in India

Jayaji Krishna Nath, M.D. and Vishwarath R. Nayar wrote in the Encyclopedia of Sexuality: All forms of sexually oriented publications are illegal in India. The government-appointed Central Board has the power to make cuts or ban the indecent or obscene scenes in films. Although pornographic books, magazines, and videos are illegal, their display and sales are casually noticed in urban areas, especially in the major cities.” [Source: Jayaji Krishna Nath, M.D., and Vishwarath R. Nayar, Encyclopedia of Sexuality*/]

Despite television and movie censorship, India has no national obscenity laws and no universally accepted definition of vulgarity. “Playboy” and “Penthouse” are banned. “Debonair” is an Indian-produced magazine modeled on “Playboy”. Police sometimes raid video shops with under-the-counter soft pornographic films.

In 1995, two models were arrested and jailed for indecency after posing in an ad for sportswear wearing nothing but sports shoes. The editor of the magazine that printed the ads was charged with obscenity. The male and female models didn't reveal any of their private parts.

Sex in Indian Films

Nudity and sex are banned in Indian movies but suggestive songs and dances with actors luridly thrusting their pelvises, actresses running around semi-nude in wet saris and stories that revolve around housewives and peasant girls that sell their bodies to take care of their families are all okay. There are lots of double entendres. Climaxes of romantic songs often feature erupting fountains.

India movies are generally made to be enjoyed by the whole family. The Indian music and movie industries have traditionally portrayed sex behind "veils of verbal and visual illusion," in which most of the action has taken place in the imagination of the viewer. A common cinematic trick in Indian film is "the indirect kiss" in which a man caresses and passionately kisses a piece of fruit or a tea cup and then hands it to his lover. In one Bollywood film the climactic scene was a kiss—from different sides of a glass window.

The heavily made-up actress Zeenat Aman made a big stir in the late 1970s when she kissed her leading man on screen. Up until that time censors cut all kissing scenes. These days, censors generally permit kissing scenes as long as they are not too deep. The first kissing scene appeared the 1933 Hindi-English film “Karma”.

Once-avoided topics such as lesbian love, extramarital affairs, unwed mothers, live-in relationships are now commonly featured in Indian films. Many movies nowadays include rape scenes, thrusting pelvises, steamy kisses and gyrating hips. Posters for Indian movies with names like “Big Zapper” show sexy young women with machine guns between their legs. Even so “Shakespeare in Love” was considered too sexy and violent for Indian censors.

Reaction to Sex in Indian Films

Some traditional India believe the film industry has gone too far when it comes sex. In one incident in the early 1990s about 150 members of the Hindu fundamentalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) raided a theater in Bombay and ripped up marquee, chased patrons out and splattered black ink all over the screen. Prime Minister Narasimha Rao commented that "self regulation is the best antidote, but in case it fails to work, we will certainly have to fall back on other measures." [Source: Molly Moore, Washington Post, August 2, 1994]

Mothers are particularly upset about the influx of Western values in Indian films. One 34-year-old mother told the Washington Post, "My son has forgotten all the nursery rhymes he learned. He used to come from preschool and sing 'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.' Now you tell him to recite a nursery rhyme and he makes a face, says, 'No, bo'...and starts singing 'Choli' and 'Sexy, sexy.'” In response to the criticism, Mahsh Bhatt, one of Bollywood's most successful filmmakers, said he didn't understand all the fuss. "Every temple in India has images of the worst imaginable sex postures."

Jayaji Krishna Nath, M.D. and Vishwarath R. Nayar wrote in the Encyclopedia of Sexuality: Fifteen million Indians attend the cinema every day. Hindi cinema, perhaps more than the cinema of many other countries, provides fantasy, the stuff that dreams are made of. The cinema is the major shaper of an emerging, pan-Indian popular culture. As such, the mix of fantasy and reality, dreams and hopes, that permeates Hindi cinema is already a major factor in the remolding of Indian sexual values, expectations, and attitudes, as well as gender relations, marriage, and the family (Kakar, 1989, 25-41). [Source: Jayaji Krishna Nath, M.D., and Vishwarath R. Nayar, Encyclopedia of Sexuality*/]

Sometimes it is difficult to predict the reaction to movies with sexual content. “Jism”, about a woman who shamelessly forces men to fulfill her sexual desires, was a big hit and inspired a number of imitators. A few months later The film “Boom”, widely expected to be a blockbuster and released four month later, was called “dirty, filthy, repulsive, and completely insane.”

Sex Education in India

There is no sex education in India school despite a serious AIDS epidemic in the country. Sex is not taught in schools because there is a belief that it comes naturally. Jayaji Krishna Nath, M.D. and Vishwarath R. Nayar wrote in the Encyclopedia of Sexuality: “Present-day children in India are more exposed to new areas of knowledge than their parents were. As a matter of fact, young people are simply deluged these days with movies, magazines, and books - all prime sources of sexual information and stimulation. Young people nowadays want to know more about pros and cons of marriage, premarital and extramarital sexual relationships, venereal diseases, etc. In a survey of college students conducted by the All India Educational and Vocational Guidance Association, it was reported that 54 percent of male students and 42 percent of female students stated that they did not have adequate knowledge regarding matters of sex. [Source: Jayaji Krishna Nath, M.D., and Vishwarath R. Nayar, Encyclopedia of Sexuality */]

Though parents have the primary responsibility of imparting sex education to their children, it has been found that a majority of young people in India derive their information about sex and sex behavior largely from companions, street-corner conversation, movies, and magazines. The government is seriously contemplating introducing sex education as a part of the curriculum from the secondary school level onwards. One important reason for giving the school responsibility for sex education is that many parents feel unable to handle this task themselves. Many have inhibitions about discussing sex with their children; others admit that they do not have the technical knowledge to answer all the questions their children ask. In this situation, the teacher is a major factor in determining the success of any sex-education program. Serious efforts are under way in specifying the contents and components of sex education and the level at which this has to be taught. No information is available on the provision of sex education in special schools such as those for mentally handicapped persons. */

“Parents give their young children sex education many years before they can begin to convey sex information verbally. The mother’s behavior, attitudes, and roles are a clear model for the growing girl. Similarly, the father provides a role model for a son. The relationship, warmth, and responsiveness between parents provides for all children a model for their later marriage. By observing their parents, children see the basic qualities that make men and women different. Similarly, when the child is in the company of his friends, he/she learns through them the various facets of their life. The other important informal sources of sexual information for the child are peer group influence, teachers, books, movies, magazines, and siblings.

Incest and Sexual Abuse of Children in India

Jayaji Krishna Nath, M.D. and Vishwarath R. Nayar wrote in the Encyclopedia of Sexuality: Due to pressures of social change and the loss of the holding power of traditional taboos, child sexual abuse seems to be increasing in India. However, there is a growing awareness about child sexual abuse in the society. Girls who are near to attaining their puberty, or have just attained it, are often objects of older men’s attention. [Source: Jayaji Krishna Nath, M.D., and Vishwarath R. Nayar, Encyclopedia of Sexuality */]

“Although it is socially disapproved, some instances have been reported where parents, because of their poverty, accept a bride price for the marriage of a very young daughter to an older man seeking a young girl as a second wife. In spite of rigorous efforts by the government in educating the people, it is still an accepted practice, especially in rural areas, to arrange marriages of young girls. */

“Repressed sexuality has also been a factor in what in the West might be considered widespread incest. In India’s extended family system, sex between brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, for example, or between cousins, or uncles and nieces, or aunts and nephews is common, although hard statistics are not available. */

Rape and Sexual Harassment in India

Jayaji Krishna Nath, M.D. and Vishwarath R. Nayar wrote in the Encyclopedia of Sexuality: Poverty forces many rural girls around 10 years of age to be employed as housemaids in rich and middle-class homes. In addition to the economic exploitation, some of these girls also face sexual harassment by males in these households. Since these girls are in no position to resist sexual advances, most sexual harassment acts are not reported or complained about to the police. College girls and young working girls face the problems of harassment. The problem of “Eve-teasing” - old-fashioned pinching, fondling, and other sexual harassment of women on the street - has become so serious in recent years that the government has had to promulgate a law prohibiting this behavior. [Source: Jayaji Krishna Nath, M.D., and Vishwarath R. Nayar, Encyclopedia of Sexuality*/]

Some 70 percent of all rapes in India occur within the family an only four percent of rapists are convicted. Jayaji Krishna Nath, M.D. and Vishwarath R. Nayar wrote in the Encyclopedia of Sexuality: “Sexual exploitation of girls is another problem faced by females in India. Data on the crime of rape shows that a total of 4,919 rape cases were registered in the country in 1981, with an increase of 12.8 percent from 1980. Few cases of rape are actually reported to the police because of the negative consequences to the future life of rape victims. Young Indian women who are known to be victims of rape are viewed as outcasts and their families disgraced, even though they were not in any way responsible for the attack. The spread of Western culture, the disruption of urbanization, exposure to films with lots of sex scenes, and pornographic materials are all contributory factors in the increasing the number of rape cases in India.” [Source: Jayaji Krishna Nath, M.D., and Vishwarath R. Nayar, Encyclopedia of Sexuality */]

Some rape victims are encouraged to marry the rapists. In some cases police won’t even file a rape report until an attempt is made to try and marry the attacker and the victim. A nurse in Delhi was raped and had an eye gouged out by her attacker and then was left for dead. The rapist was tried and found guilty. Minutes before the man was to be sentenced his lawyer approached the judge with an offer: that the attacker marry the victim to spare the attacker a long prison sentence and the victim dishonor. The lawyer said the attacker was even willing to accept the victim without a dowry payment. The victim’s response: “I would rather die than marry him. He should be hanged so that such a horrendous act is not repeated” Her family turned down the deal and the rapist was given two life sentences in 2005.

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

Last updated June 2015

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available in an effort to advance understanding of country or topic discussed in the article. This constitutes 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. If you are the copyright owner and would like this content removed from, please contact me.