7/12 : I ran in Pune international marathon, the charity race’s theme was race against AIDS. The issue of AIDS and lack of sexual awareness kept me thinking for a major part of the last week. India has a terrible enemy AIDS.
The biggest victim of HIV stands helpless in the world today; the culture misinterpretation stands as one of the major causes for this; I have to say very sadly. This is India, king of closed-door mentality.
We don’t believe in open discussion on sex; sex is a taboo in our country. Vast Majority of the country still regards sexual activities as sins (less educated class) or mistakes (average socio-economic class) or a ‘dirty’ necessity (well-off youngsters). People here still don’t accept it as a critical necessity for life, as mutual pleasure for partners, as a very natural biological process. Parents don’t tell their children about puberty/youth/sexual growth and children start misinterpreting their sexual behaviors according to their sources of information. Adolescents are vehemently under-confident; puberty is not taken in a healthy way. We think Menstruation is grimy and Masturbation is mistake committed by the young.
India has never handled sex medically, it has always been something aberrant. We’re in a nation where a gentle kiss is still considered to be a ‘sexual activity’, people shy away from touching or holding their partners in public. Homosexuality here, is a matter of humor only. Our government thinks homosexuality is a prime cause for spreading of HIV in the country (huhh … stupid lack of medical research). Live-ins, homosexuals, one-night-stands have still not been taken well. Is there any other of the fastest-developing countries that’s more ill-informed about sexual existence ?
Now, still majority of India thinks they have the best and safest (?) sexual practices in the world. We rigidly label Westerners unfaithful, people here still don’t know that marriage systems in the USA, Europe are quite successful and long-lasting too. We often joke around their family systems while comfortably forgetting that we’ve equally bad practices carried out in India (urban as well as rural) too.
We have extra-marital affairs, pre-marital stands, incest (sex with a person of blood relation) relationships, domestic violence and rapes, child molestation, prevalent sexual harassment of women (sometimes men too) at workplaces/social places. Just like the rest of the world, India too has 18-20% of the population as homosexuals ….. People not only from army/navy or fashion photography but from rural backgrounds and normal households also. We still do not know the difference between gays, transsexuals and eunuchs (hijras).
States like Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan belong to India only …. Thousands of girl fetuses are killed every month in these states. We still have child marriages, rituals like Sati and Devdasi in India. Girl child is never preferred, girls are suppressed, they are neglected and abused in urban areas equally. Females are always least important in India, sex ratio is declining very fast. Number of women suffering from AIDS due to transmission from their male partners is astonishingly high in India. We need to understand importance of women in overall healthy development of the country. We may be an economically developing country but we are definitely not developing socially.
I will tell you an incident : my grandma had rescued a wounded parrot from a park nearby her home, she took it home and fed it for some months. After recovery and some time, it was freed and to my astonishment, it just could not take off from the ground (I was around 6 years old then), it just fluttered its wings unusually and later was grabbed by a cat. When I asked my grandma about it, I still remember her words, she said “use aazad udane ki aadat nahin thi” (it wasn’t used to flying freely in open air) ….. that’s what I feel about India’s posh class. They are educated, they are well-off but they do not have the sense of utilizing that freedom. Talking about sexual freedom, India’s high class is one of the poorest categories. Relations with more than one partner, practicing sexual pleasures with glamorous prostitutes, strip shows does not mean sexual empowerment. There’s a very fine line between elegance and sleaze and we, generally tend to blunder !
India need to wake up to the fact that we have been badly gripped by HIV. Above examples, according to me, show worst affected general categories in India. We need to identify the enemy HIV correctly. AIDS is spreading fast across all categories. Sex should be taught and thought in a healthier way, we need to be informed and stay informed medically.
Prostitution must be regarded as a ‘profession’ and prostitutes need be educated about their health and usage of contraceptives. We also need to recognize and socially bring up prostitutes’ children, enough of negligence. The ‘so-called’ culture which does not preserve the dignity and pride of women needs to cleansed big time. Rituals like Sati and donating the girl child to the god (devdasi) need to be scrapped socially. British time Rules and laws against homosexuality (male and female both) must be reconsidered with the help of medical experts and research sans any inhibitions. In fact, Gay tourism can benefit the country long way. Very few countries in the world allow gay marriages, if India makes such marriages legal, lots of gays all over the world will travel to India for the purpose (Canada, despite being very expensive, attracts a huge tourist population for gay marriages are legal there).
There has been a slight improvement in India republic in the past few years with India making stringent laws against domestic violence and marital rapes (some activists are fighting for such laws against women too). Kudos to Maharashtra, front-running in awareness, holding live-ins legal and granting rights equal to marital ones to female participants in live-in.
The government has put a foot ahead, are we socially ready ? Are WE liberal and sensible enough to talk sex ?