India is one of the oldest civilizations in the world with diverse culture and traditional beliefs. The family relationship is the most significant pillar for Indians since it represents wholeness, uprightness, and faithfulness. Their parents decide for the majority of their choices in their career, romantic relationships, education, and marriage. The societal values have evolved, but parents of Indian youths still consider fixed marriage and go against dating, sex education, and pre-marital sex.
The issue of pre-marital sex in India has remained taboo. Pre-marital sex is the engagement in sexual intercourse of unmarried individuals. Several developing countries such as China, Egypt, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, and India consider pre-marital sex as unacceptable and forbidden.
The National Institute of Health and Family Welfare conducted a study concerning the pervasiveness of pre-marital sex amongst the youth in India. Professor Virendra Kumar Tewari of Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur coordinated the research and surveyed 3,300 participants in New Delhi and Lucknow regarding their knowledge in the risk of pre-marital sex and unsafe sexual activities. She found that 17-33% of the respondents engage in pre-marital sex, and people from Lucknow are more inclined to get involved compared to the people from Delhi.
Experts believe that the increasing growth of people engaging in pre-marital sex is due to the emergence of various contraceptives such as oral pills, condoms, and intrauterine contraceptive device (IUD). This modern contraception has prevented the risks of unprotected sex and unwanted pregnancy.
Furthermore, the idea of cohabitation or unmarried couple living together has contributed to the increasing numbers of sexual activities before marriage. It is more apparent in Western nations such as Sweden, United Kingdom, United States, the Netherlands, and France, but traditional Asian countries like China, Japan, Iran, and India have also adapted to the consensual union of unmarried individuals.
Other factors that experts consider as a contributor to pre-marital sex are the extensiveness of late marriage among individuals, lifestyles, career development, independence, and diversity.
The magazine Men’s Health India conducted a study to compare the different sexual activities and practices of 50,000 individuals from 30 different countries. The results showed that Indian women are less frequent to engage in sexual activities and only have two sexual partners. Bobby Varkkey, the magazine editor, believed that it is due to the lack of privacy and the traditional belief of marriage before sex. Nevertheless, the survey also indicated that Indian women were six more times expected to have sexual intercourse at the back of a vehicle compared to American women.
Alexander et al. published an article in the journal International Family Planning Perspectives about a qualitative design on the relationship among the youth in the rural and urban areas of Pune district, India. Their study showed that 14-17% of young females in the slum have friends of the opposite gender. These females indicated that sexual intercourse happened without their consent or with persuasion. Several factors such as alcohol intake, pornographic materials, peer pressure, and even illegal drugs influenced the youth in engaging in sexual activities.
Although some institutions such as the government, conservative organization, and religious groups have been vocal about their disapproval of premarital sex among Indian women, the changes in the society, especially in traditional beliefs, is inevitable. Various factors contribute to these changes, and sex education may aid several individuals on the widespread sexual revolt.