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63% want to marry virgins, but majority approve of premarital sex

India’s young pay a heavy price for straddling both tradition and modernity. Deep-rooted habits stop them from practising what they preach.
By Jyoti Sharma Bawa | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON SEP 03, 2015 07:40 PM IST

At 24, Indore’s Amit Trivedi hasn’t really taken too many decisions on his own ever. He decided to get a degree in MBA because that’s what all his seniors in school did.

Once he completed it, again, it didn’t take him much time to decide: he relocated to Delhi and has been working with a "multi-national" for a year now. But for this, not much has changed in Amit’s life. Back home, his parents are looking for a perfect match for him. As for him, Amit’s clear about what he wants: a well-educated, “presentable” girl from a good family. He also has one unspoken prerequisite — the girl must be a virgin. It is immaterial that Amit is not one himself.

Call it double standards, the cost of straddling a la-la land between tradition or modernity or just plain old hypocrisy, the fact is that the youth of urban India hardly practise what they preach. According to the HT-MaRS Youth Survey, an unprecedented 61% believe that premarital sex is no longer a taboo. Only, when it comes to marriage, 63% want their partners to be virgins. See: Rooted to traditions, casual sex remains a no-no

Delhi-based psychiatrist Dr Sanjay Chugh explains, "While women are far more empowered today and ready to embrace their sexuality, the male mindset has hardly changed. The trope of the virginal bride still holds. Pre-marital sex and casual relationships have been de-stigmatised in the youths' minds but they are afraid of being found out. The guilt is not about the act itself, but the fear of being discovered."

The number of youngsters who accept that they are in relationship also varies with the affluence of the city they come from.

While their numbers are higher in cosmopolitan Delhi (67%), Mumbai (63%), Kolkata (67%) or Chandigarh (67%), a traditional Jaipur (28%), Indore (32%) and Chennai (35%) seems to have a stymieing effect. The national average is 49%.

And these are not they-lived-happily-ever-after relationships either. Only 24% of these 49% accept that they are "very much" in love with their boyfriend/girlfriend.

While Chandigarh youth top the chart when it comes to cheating (45%), Delhi is not far behind at 41%. Pune, where only 44% respondents accepted they were in a relationship, is at the bottom of the pile in terms of cheating on their significant other (25%). See: The cheat sheet

Says Mumbai-based sexologist Deepak Jumani, "Earlier, marriage was about finding the best mate in terms of financial security and social strata. Those rules are not applicable any more. Both men and women want to experiment and find compatibility in every sense — emotional, physical and sexual. Embarking on a relationship does not mean youngsters have marriage on their mind. Whether it is a one-night stand, a casual relationship or a live-in, commitment does not have to be on the agenda." See: The love metre

However, the dos and don'ts are far more hard-bound when it comes to the institution of marriage. Divorce is still not an option for 53% of youngsters and neither is casual sex while married. Only 11% feel it can be forgiven and 25% believe if a man strays, he should let his wife do that too. Out of this figure, 13% are male and 36% women. See: Extent of love

Delhi-based fine arts student Avneesh Murgai says, "Every relationship is different and you cannot say why people make the choices they make in a relationship. Having said that, marriage is commitment and the alpha male mindset where you can get away with anything is just not acceptable. We are westernised enough to indulge in a casual sexual encounter but still caught in the patriarchal time warp where we cannot entertain the idea of our wife/girlfriend ever being touched by another man." See: Some opinions

There were some positive takeaways from the survey too. The number of youngsters who believe homosexuality is an acceptable sexual preference stands at 43%, up from 37% last year. See: Homosexuality acceptable to 43% of India's youth

"Your sexuality is your personal choice. Nobody should be allowed to dictate whom you should love and why. Law and society needs to be changed to accommodate a very large percentage of people who are forced to live in the closet," says Yukti Arora, an 18-year-old Delhi University student.

Read: Young, conservative, traditional: Here's India's gen-next
Read: Times are changing: India's youth a mix of old and new
Read: Saving and splurging: What's on young consumers' minds
Read: Logged in generation next requires digital de-addiction
Read: India's youth reinterpreting God in a whole new way
Read: In politics, youth goes for content, not age or lineage
Read: India's young have set high targets to achieve that perfect life
Read: India's young turn to self-made icons known for their achievements

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