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Study busts urban legends

A survey has found that youngsters in rural Maharashtra are twice as likely to have had pre-marital sex than their urban counterparts, reports Neha Bhayana.

india Updated: Feb 27, 2009 00:25 IST
Neha Bhayana

If you thought youngsters in villages were “innocent” and young people in the city “fast”, here’s a reality check.

A survey has found that youngsters in rural Maharashtra are twice as likely to have had pre-marital sex than their urban counterparts. Twenty-one per cent of young men aged 15 to 29 and four per cent of women aged 15 to 24 from rural areas had had sex as compared to 11 per cent men and two per cent women in urban areas.

And, one of main reasons for this difference is the lack of secluded places in overcrowded cities like Mumbai. Rural youth got ample “privacy” and had sex “behind temples and in the fields”, the researchers said.

The findings are part of the Maharashtra report of a six-state study, ‘Youth in India: Situation and Needs 2006-7’, conducted by the Internation-al Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai, and Population Council, Delhi. The state report was released in Mumbai on Thursday.

The worrying part is that while a significant number of the 7,450 youngsters surveyed were sexually active, majority of them were uninformed.

Only 14 per cent young men and 17 per cent women who were sexually active before marriage had in-depth awareness of matters related to sex and pregnancy.

Just two in five young people knew that a woman can get pregnant during first-time sex. Only one in four women knew that a condom can be used just for one sexual act.

And, one in seven youngsters had heard of a sexually transmitted infection other than HIV.

“Almost all of the youth we interviewed said they wanted sex education but very few had received it in school,” said researcher Shireen Jejeebhoy.