Breaking Barriers: Premarital Sex & 5 Things to keep in mind

Cultural Perceptions of Premarital Sex in India
Societal Debate on Premarital Sex in Traditional Indian Culture
  • Parental Concerns
  • Silences in culture and disinformation:
  • Gender Relations & Patriarchy
  • Stigma & Sexual Health
  • Health care and contraceptives

Written by Sneha Kamalanandan

Additionally, the cultural landscape in India is highly stigmatized against premarital sex, with an argument that cites Western influence as a reason for the deterioration of values. This paper delves into deep-tabooed premarital sex, its influences on gender, and applications for sexual health education.

The Desi culture, in a traditional way, considers premarital sex a significant moral offense, influenced by the imperative to maintain family honor. Hence, the pressure unfairly falls on women, whose sexual behavior is often directly equated with the dignity of their family.

Parental Concerns
The health risks of STDs, UTIs, and unplanned pregnancies are some of the legitimate concerns of parents of minors engaging in premarital sex until the age of 18. However, even mention of these issues is often taken off the table, and discussion about the real facts or nature of the issues is not encouraged, but instead the blanket condemnation of sexual activity as intrinsically negative.

Silences in culture and disinformation:
The lack of an open discussion extends up to the system of education, where even teachers may not be candid in discussing human reproduction with the learners. Such lack of openness also propels misinformation, which then leaves young people unprepared to make informed decisions on their sexual health.

Gender Relations and Patriarchy: Two-level standard: In a big part of patriarchal societies, men can easily escape the vigilance that the society keeps regarding premarital sex on women. This two-tier standard creates gender inequality and also diminutives the effect of the risky sexual behaviors of men.

Stigma and Sexual Health:
The stigmatization of premarital sex makes it look like a means to an end, and consequently, people do not pay heed to the importance of mutual pleasure and agreement. This stigmatization, most of the time, makes people get involved in under-the-table meetings, further complicating open discussion and management of sexual health.

Health care and contraceptives: Discrimination in healthcare abounds; some professionals feel one’s marital status deserves more of their attention than the sexual health needs in question. Limited discussion around contraceptive methods, other than condoms and emergency pills, further contributes to inadequate protection against STIs and suboptimal management of reproductive health. Responsibility and Education: The responsibility for safe sex should be mutual in a relationship. There is a dire need for broad-based education on contraception, STD prevention, and the abortion law that will help empower youths into responsible sexual behavior.

Also read – How to do foreplay & its benefits

Lets open doors to a more open environment

Desi culture deems premarital sex to be a sin of sorts. The concept is as old as time itself yet Indians give credit to the Western influence for ruining the youth, depriving them of sanskaar. It is a taboo for both genders, but it mostly affects women because they are expected to uphold the family’s honour and dignity, which is somehow dependent on their virginity. So having sex before marriage would mean that she is a disgrace and hence she is meant to suppress her sexual urges until she gets hitched. Until the child is 18, a parent’s concern regarding premarital sex is valid, to an extent.

The concern stems from issues like STDs, STIs, UTIs and unplanned pregnancies that could be a mental struggle to deal with at that tender age. But most elders would just say that sex is evil, rather than have a candid conversation about the same, voice the above concerns and educate them about safe sex. Even teachers find it awkward and hesitate to teach students when it comes to the chapter on human reproduction.

It is said that we are supposed to look up to our elders for guidance, but in this scenario where questions asked are discouraged, ignored, or even considered disrespectful, what can be expected of the youth? As India is largely a patriarchal society, boys mostly get away with this instance. Due to this, to some extent, they themselves do not fully understand the consequences of what they do and therefore are not able to take full responsibility for their actions or prepare for it.

Sex in our culture is just seen as a means to an end, rather than a pleasurable experience. This is why premarital sex is looked down on, it sometimes makes one think if marriage is a license for sex. Even though such a stigma exists, premarital sex is quite common, but just not disclosed. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, sex is a primal want and when a person gains sexual maturity it becomes quite confining for some to hold back those impulses. But there’s quite a paradox in such a situation, one has needs to satisfy while there’s always the fear of parents finding out. That is why most of the youth resort to means like meeting at hotels or friend’s places in full spy mode to be inconspicuous.

When it comes to act itself, due to the social stigma, even some gynecologists discriminate treatment when it comes to premarital sex. They don’t even ask you if you are sexually active, they ask you if you are married. This unapproachable nature of theirs causes the youth to rely on the internet or their peers for sexual advice. There are a handful of methods of contraception but the ones that are known most commonly are the use of the condom and emergency pill. In a study conducted, it was found that 77% of women use the emergency pill as a regular form of contraception. It has several side effects like nausea, cramping, fatigue which also take a toll on your mental health and it also doesn’t protect against STI or STDs.

It is important to give equal attention to your sexual health rather than only worry about getting pregnant. Condoms, if used properly, are the most effective method (even though Ross figured out they are only 97% effective). But there are other long term effective methods other than these like hormonal implant; it secretes the hormone progestin that reduces chances of pregnancy, vasectomy and tubectomy; that is permanent sterilization, IUD; intrauterine devices of two types, hormonal or copper that last for 3-10 years, the shot; a birth control injection that lasts for 13 weeks, the pill; that is taken daily in cycles, the patch; it produces hormones to prevent pregnancy, the ring; a vaginal ring that secretes estrogen and progestin which gets absorbed in the bloodstream and a diaphragm; a barrier method for women. Quite a few of these methods require a prescription, which doesn’t make it as accessible as it should be. What makes it more difficult is the attitude of the pharmacists themselves who smirk, mock, ignore or get alarmed when a person asks for a condom, especially a woman. As you may have noticed, most of these methods are women-centric and it is disappointing in a way but there are other hormonal forms of contraception that are in the works for men.

Sex is a mutual act done with the consent of both parties, which is why both should take equal responsibility and take precautions needed and handle whatever consequences that may occur. If it gets too late, it is important to keep in mind about the abortion laws present in the country and their NGOs that support and promote safe abortion. While there are gynecologists who may discriminate, there are non-judgmental ones out there and try to cover the cost of that consultation. Knowledge is important for awareness, read about the different kinds of infections and diseases that one could be susceptible to so you can prepare against it, it would be great even if you read the instructions on the birth control box or the condom box (Don’t be Ross). When it comes to premarital sex, due to the huge number of worries, it causes a lot of mental stress. In a heterosexual relationship, for a woman, it becomes mentally devastating until she gets her menstrual cycle, and if it gets late, that is when the male actually freaks out which is of no use or help at that time. (Aakhri waqt pe kyun batti jalti hai). Sex is fun but that is not where everything ends, it is important to be emotionally and mentally available for your partner. Society needs to get over this stigma and change its perception, sex is something everyone does or at the very least knows about, so why are we unable to talk about it?

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