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An alien culture we can do without

The Supreme Court's observation that it finds nothing legally wrong in pre-marital sex or live-in relationships where consenting adults are involved is certain to raise conservative eyebrows across the country. Indian society, by and large, continues to frown upon both pre-marital sex and live-in relationships to an extent that those who indulge in either are even ostracised by society. In the West, where teenage pregnancies are common and where couples walk in and out of relationships with consummate ease and with hardly any passion or affection characterising these relationships, such issues raise no social storms or hackles.

In India, however, where sexual permissiveness is still the exception and not the rule, the legality or otherwise of pre-marital sex or live in relationships is not the only point of consideration.

Such liaisons are presumed to be unholy for marriage is still held sacrosanct and cohabitation is a natural corollary of wedlock. Entering into a bond where there are no vows or values is something that cannot be endorsed, for these are relationships of convenience; where each partner is willing to participate in an experiment with the clear understanding that either could walk out of the house with no questions asked. One could well ask what sanctity is there in such live-ins and why a romantically involved couple (that is the general presumption) is not inclined to follow the social tenets and seal their love with the stamp of marriage.

The hesitation to take the plunge makes it abundantly clear that you just agree to a live-in arrangement till one tires of the other or till a new relationship emerges. While the Supreme Court's opinion might not have the undesirable effect of more and more couples preferring live-in relationships rather than opting to wed, it is evident that it could embolden more young men and women as they would now be convinced that there is no breach of law in the live-in relationships. One can only hope that as mature adults such couples would weigh the pros and cons and take into account the impact of their decision on their parents and other kith and kin. Often, when these live-ins come apart, they could scar either the man or woman for life. Pre-marital sex too is alien to our culture, though surveys often reveal that Indian teenagers are no whit behind their western counterparts when it comes to indulging in it.

Awareness has to be created in these young minds that pre-marital sex could be extremely dangerous not just from the point of unwanted pregnancies but also from the fact that either partner could contact sexually transmitted diseases. The proliferation of the internet, chat rooms and reality TV is exercising a corrupting influence on school and college students, who reach the alarming conclusion that all this is no big deal and that pre-marital sex too is part of growing up. This, of course, is far from the truth and while it might be commonplace in other countries, it is in the interest of all that we continue to be old-fashioned and prude rather than be bold and brazen throwing caution to the winds, only to regret it all later. By then, it might just be too late to put the pieces back together.


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Printable version | Dec 5, 2021 6:38:35 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/An-alien-culture-we-can-do-without/article16370475.ece

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