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India needs a sexual revolution

India needs a sexual revolution

Section 377 was taken down by the Supreme Court recently which I really appreciate and believe is a step in the right direction. However, there is a massive chunk of our population who still consider premarital consensual sex between two people of opposite sex literally as a sin and something to be ashamed of. I know that there are plenty of other things in our country that need our attention, but I believe that we cannot ignore this any longer. India needs a sexual revolution to change the mentality of people at large. Until then, steps like decriminalizing homosexuality aren’t going to do much good.

History

Depending on what you consider history, India had a very varied view of sex and sexuality.

India before the Mughals was more tolerant towards sex. There are plenty of statues and books that date back to the pre-Mughal era that openly talked about sex. However, that doesn’t mean it was a sexual haven. Homosexuality was still stigmatized, but people were well aware of it and it was not a taboo to talk about it. And while it isn’t correct to assume that the statues of Khajuraho are a reflection of the whole society’s mindset, it’s safe to assume that the society at large didn’t have a problem with them being made.

Khajuraho Temple

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Can you think about the crap you would invite if you build something like this today? This, coupled with the Kamasutra and even the early scriptures mentioning about the mutual duty of both wife AND husband to take care of each other’s sexual desires, you could safely say that sex and sexuality was discussed more openly. And of course, we had Kamasutra, which is much more than sex and positions I must add.

Kamasutra Vatsayana

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Then began the era of Mughals. There are plenty of records about emperors and their elaborate sexual endeavors. Sexual freedom was restricted to the kings though. Homosexuals were a part of the royal palaces and they often ‘pleasured’ the princes and kings too. However, there was not much sexual freedom for the queens. They were supposed to do ‘pardah’ and most of their lives were restricted to the palace walls. As far as the society was considered, it had a very conservative view on sexuality, especially for females due to the growing influence of Islam (except maybe during Akbar’s reign).

Sexuality in Mughal Era

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Now let’s talk about the British. The British were prudish, to say the least. Not that the Indian society was a sexual utopia before them, but what British did was create rules about what is wrong and what is right, according to their Victorian and Christian view of the world. This is where the whole ‘unnatural acts thing came from. Homosexuality, transgenderism, and even female sexuality was something dishonorable, according to their morality.

Queen_victoria

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

The moral worldview regarding sex and sexuality from the Victorian era was extremely prudish. While men could have multiple sexual partners in his life, women were expected to have only one sexual partner – their husband. Even women’s undergarments were considered ‘unmentionables’. Sex wasn’t something that was discussed openly and matters regarding sex met with embarrassment and fear – a view that is still very prevalent in today’s India.

It seems like we went from okay to bad and worse as time went by.

Sexuality in today’s India

The British sexual morality remained somehow. And even though they themselves moved towards a more accepting society, we’re still stuck there – which is not surprising when you think about it. All the eras and periods that we talked about it, lasted for at least a couple hundred years. India has been on its own for only 71 years now. However, India needs a sexual revolution, and it needs it now.

Rapes in India

Rapes in India

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In 2016, there were a total of 38,947 rape cases registered in India. That means almost 107 rapes happen every day in India. That’s more than 4 rapes per hour and at least 1 rape in 15 minutes. Oh, and those are only the ones that are reported. More than 90% of rape and sexual assault cases in India go unreported. Also, 4 out of every 10 victims are minors and 94% of the perpetrators were a relative.

If the 90% figure is true, then there are at least 400 rapes happening every hour. 400.

But there are still people and media outlets who’d like to argue about the fact that per capita rapes are lesser than America or some other country. I’ve always failed to understand what they are trying to achieve by stating this. Even if it is true, which it isn’t because of the number of unreported cases and different definition of rape (for example, marital rape is not a crime in India), it still doesn’t change the fact that there is a serious problem here. But at least we’re better than those western countries, am I right?

Rapes in India-2

Image Source: SanskritiMagazine

Porn

India is the third largest consumer of porn in the world. But that isn’t what worries me. What worries me is our behavior towards it.

Asifa Rape Case

Image Source: Reddit

Yes, that is the name of the Kathua rape victim, trending on xvideos. She was 8. Her name was trending on a porn website. But it doesn’t stop here.

Rape videos are sold in Uttar Pradesh for Rs. 50. Yes, we Indians are paying to watch rape videos.

There is also a widespread ring of child pornography in India. Regular people, not rapists, share disgusting videos of children on Whatsapp because they find it ‘funny’. They don’t know or care what they are supporting or spreading. Most of them don’t even know it’s wrong. They don’t even know the difference between legal porn and child pornography or rape or revenge porn.

Revenge Porn in India

Image Source: IndianWomenBlog.org

In India, rape is an epidemic. There are several horrifying cases of rape that we read every day but have stopped bothering us because we have become so desensitized towards it. Cases like:

Rape of a 100-year-old woman.

Rape of a 4-month old baby.

Rape of a woman and her daughter, while her husband was tied to a tree.

Rape of Nirbhaya.

Rape of Asifa.

Rape of a minor that went on for 7 months.

There literally too many cases to list here, and the list is growing by the minute. The worse part is that people make them political. Nobody cares about the victim, political parties just want to capitalize on the crime. Who should be blamed, your favorite party’s government or mine? Their supporters mimic their disgusting actions. Who is left is the victim. At best, a rape survivor will live the rest of her life fighting an exhausting legal battle to prove the courts and the society that it was not her fault; at worst, she will kill herself.

Victim Blaming in India

Image Source: Twitter

Sex education in India

…is nonexistent, to say the least. Not only there are virtually no sex education classes, but there is also a hoard of political parties opposing it. As expected, according to major political parties, sex education is a ‘western concept’ and it against ‘our culture’. Those who support it, ask to teach celibacy as the only method of contraception. It’s the regressive mentality like this that there are more than 1.2 Billion of us, and this number doesn’t seem to slow down.

Sex Education in India

Image Source: Twitter

Our parents don’t have the ‘talk’ with us. Hell, we couldn’t even watch a condom ad without it getting awkward. Our parents failed us when it came to making us aware of sex, like their parents before them. Our only source of knowledge was the internet and half-baked stories from our friends who claim to know about it. So, how do you think a horny teenager, who has access to the internet, will learn about sex?

Man working on laptop

Image Source: Pixabay

Yes, porn.

Porn is the worst source to get knowledge about sex. It paints a highly unrealistic picture of what real sex is. The anatomy, the positions, the plot, give a false notion of what sex looks like. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against porn. But there are actual people who believe to an extent that whatever is being shown happens in real life. That is why many Indians have this mentality that white women are ‘easy’ because that’s what they watched growing up.

Movies do not help either, especially the old ones. No movie talks about or shows a relationship between two people of opposite genders who are not romantically involved. There must be ‘pyaar’ somewhere in it. If there is none, in the beginning, it’s just because the protagonists haven’t realized it yet that they love each other. Also, the means used by our hero to make the girl fall in love with him are questionable at best. Bollywood is especially guilty of normalizing harassment and stalking and to create the ‘ladki ki na mein bhi haan hai’ notion. Add to that item numbers, who literally sell women as a piece of meat or rather ‘tandoori murgi’.

Fevicol Se Tandoori Murgi

Image Source: Santabanta

Our culture makes things a lot worse. Stigmatising friendships, making premarital sex a taboo, setting up a mentality that the wife is supposed to give sex to the husband whenever he wants, are just a part of it. Even today, there are plenty of institutions (yes, institutions), that forbid people of opposite sex from ‘mingling’ (or in other words, talking). 

So, you have a generation of people, who never received any form of sex education in their lives, whose only source of knowledge was porn and who live in a time where media from all over objectify women every chance they get and portray them as things to be ‘consumed’. What do you think is going to be the outcome?

These things only strengthen my case that India needs a sexual revolution.

Steps that can be taken

Let's Talk Sex

Image Source: Shutterstock

Education. There should be mandatory sex ed classes in every school, from grades seventh to twelfth. Yes, seventh. An average seventh grader is 12 years, just the age puberty hits. Making them aware of what is happening to their bodies is critical. I know women who didn’t even know about periods till they actually had them. Talking to children about these things early will change their perception towards it.

Manforce Condom Ad

Image Source: Youtube

The courses should be tailor-made according to grades. A 9th grader needs more information about sex than a 7th grader. Similarly, a student  in11th or12th should have proper knowledge about sex and contraception. Not only will this equip them with knowledge when they finally choose to have sex (which can be in high school or after marriage – THEIR CHOICE), it will also make them aware about the requirements of the other gender’s body.

Convicted rapists in India don’t even know that what they did was rape. They have no idea, no concept of consent. Teaching children early on about what consent is will go a long way in educating them.

What we need are sensitive teachers and willing parents. At present, the only ‘sex ed’ we get in school is the animal reproduction. Some teachers skip the human reproduction chapter to avoid having an awkward session. As teachers, as knowledge providers, this is plain wrong.

On the parent’s side, they should be more open about sex and sexuality with their children. Remember, it’s up to you to make it awkward or not. A child doesn’t know since he was born that sex is some taboo. You have to create an environment in which your child can ask you questions, without feeling guilty or embarrassed and you can do the same.

Father and son

Image Source: Pixabay

If you are a parent, and your kids are old enough, talk to them. If you are in a capacity to talk to the school authorities, talk to them. You have your WhatsApp and Facebook groups. If all of you urge schools to make sex ed mandatory then they have to take some action. If you cannot find teachers in your city, there are plenty of them in other cities, who will be glad to take a session per week over video calls. Most schools have internet today. I don’t think that online petitions work, but if you are in any position to influence authorities, please do it. Not only India, but the world will thank you for it.

I know this is a lot of effort for something that is unconventional, to begin with. But making it happen will help raise a generation more sensitive, more aware of sex. Maybe in the future, your efforts could save someone from getting raped or sexually assaulted.

India needs a sexual revolution. Be a part of it, do it in any capacity that you can. You will help create a generation of better individuals.

Youth of india

Image Source: Pinterest

I would love your suggestions about steps that we can take to make it happen. Feel free to share them in the comments.

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