Sex, as per the Indian culture is an extremely private and sacred affair and according to the Indian societal values-it is a taboo! To talk freely about sex and intercourse is regarded as a social sin and right from our childhood we are taught not to talk and think about it- doing it in practical is way beyond our imagination.
‘No sex before marriage’, ‘don’t think about sex much’, ‘Indian society doesn’t allow sex outside marriage’ etc are some moral lectures that we have heard a zillion times since childhood. And as we grow up and our understanding and perceptions changes with time, some of us ‘rebel’ against these pre-notions and move according to our ‘will’ and ‘enjoy’ life the way we want to. But, even after so much of (silent) rebellion and some strong steps taken by a group of ‘individuals’, when it comes to marriage and sex- certain things still remain the same.
“A girl is a like that flower whose fragrance lasts only till the time it remains attached with the plant or during the first few hours after it is kept in a vase. We don’t keep a stale and dead flower at our drawing rooms. Similarly, while marrying I would prefer a well educated and a virgin girl and not someone who have had sex with multiple times,” says 24-year-old Rohit Das of Guwahati’s Uzanbazar area.
“Premarital sex is just a fashion statement of a few and I don’t belong to that class,” he adds further.
Rohit is not the lone one here who wants a ‘virgin wife’ as it is highly surprising that majority of Guwahati youths have the same feeling even though a major chunk of them supports premarital sex.
According to a survey carried out at various places across Guwahati, it was found that 67 per cent of the respondents (boys) supported premarital sex. However, out of them, almost 90 per cent said that when to marriage, they would like to marry a virgin.
Here, I would like to cite the example of a very good friend of mine who got married in 2014. Those who know him are quite aware of his philandering ways and he himself would barely remember his one night encounters. In short, he was a complete Casanova who valued a girl only for her body and first few ‘encounters’. When his marriage talks were making rounds, he was very clear that he wants a girl who is homely and hardly has any male friends and it was sheer ‘good luck’, he found such a match!
“I was the first man inside her,” I remember he had said when we met him after his ‘first night’.
Manisha, a psychiatry student from Gauhati Medical College, commenting on this double standard mentality of the males says, “Even though pre-marital sex or casual relationships or one night stands have been de-stigmatised to a great extent, but to embrace it freely has still remained a problem for many- especially the males. No matter how much of a womaniser a boy may be, but when it comes to marriage, a virgin bride still remains his first choice. This is sheer hypocrisy.”
On the other hand, 70 per cent of girl respondents feel that premarital sex is very normal and for 73 per cent of them virginity of their partners is not that important.
“It will hardly matter if my husband has had sex before marriage or not or with how many partners has he slept with. For me, all that matters is that after marriage there should not be any extra marital affair and that he should not have sex outside marriage,” says Sheetal (name changed), a 22-year-old student of Gauhati Commerce College.
Another student from Gauhati University, who is in her MA final semester, says, “Me and my boyfriend get intimate quite often and I don’t think we are doing something wrong. I lost my virginity while I was in Class IX. The society made some rules only to impose a sense of fear and I feel it had no rational or scientific values.”
“To have sex or to have not is a personal matter and I don’t think it has got something to do with the society or its norms. If one is caught, he is guilty and if not then there is no problem,” says 19-year-old Debashish of Ganeshguri.
Adding further he continues, “There are many who says that premarital sex is just about fine but when it comes to self, they would prefer virgins. I think, for the hypocrites like these the society has become imbalanced. One should not preach one thing and act just the opposite.”
The survey results further showed that in most cases a relationship broke due to the disloyalty of either of the partners. 35 per cent of respondents (both boys and girls), who are in their second relationship, said that they discovered their partners having physical relationship with multiple partners.
26-year-old Ramen Deka of Ganeshguri says, “It was the fifth year of our relationship when one day I found my former girlfriend having physical relationship with one of her colleagues. Though she admitted her fault and said that she wanted to experiment and that she loved me and nobody else, it was somewhat claustrophobic for me to accept her back in my life. We were physically highly active and thus it was tough for me to accept that she was involved in another relationship.”
Chandmari’s Namita (24) narrating the tale of deceit that she faced, said, “Our engagement was fixed when I discovered my cousin and him together at his apartment. It was a shock to me as my cousin was engaged to his best friend. Even if I accept premarital sex, cheating is unacceptable,” says Namita.
I still remember clearly when around 13 couples were forced into marriage when they were discovered at ‘compromising’ position from a Guwahati lodge in 1998. And today after 18 years, time has changed drastically where youngsters are coming out in open and talking freely about premarital sex. They no longer consider it to be a taboo even though ‘virginity’ still remains the trump card when it comes to marriages. Time is changing. Guwahati has changed, almost!
(The survey for the story was carried out for a period of two months at several places of Guwahati, especially at colleges and Gauhati University. Some names have been changed on request)