Economic, social changes affecting Indian family life

Special Correspondent

AIDS exploding into a catastrophe; sexual ignorance rampant

37 per cent of new AIDS cases are from people below 30 years Urban youth more sexually active than their rural counterparts 37 p.c. new AIDS cases are from people below 30 Urban youth sexually active than rural counterparts

HYDERABAD: Contrary to the global phenomenon of those in the age group of 15 to 35 years being sexually active, Indian youngsters were increasingly leading inactive sex lives.

Heavy stress levels and quest among working couples for material comforts were major factors contributing to this growing `disinterest'. In contrast, the 35 plus age group fared far better.

But, this was no crowning glory as men from the land of Kamasutra were blissfully ignorant of sexual niceties, said June Machover Reinisch, Director Emerita of the Kinsey Institute of Research in Sex Gender and Reproduction, New York, Leonard A. Rosenblum, Professor of Psychiatry and founding director of State University of New York's primate behaviour laboratory and sexologist Kambhampati Swayam Prakash.

Lifestyle changes

At a press conference here on Wednesday as a precursor to the first International Congress on `Lifespan sexuality education' to be held in Hyderabad from January 4 to 6, they said India faced some critical challenges pertaining to human sexuality.

Rapid lifestyle patterns spawned by "sweeping economic and social changes have created crises in the Indian family life, be it diminished interest in sex or confusion over values pertaining to sex and sexuality."

Insidious and plentiful sexual myths, old wives' tales and general misinformation were spreading unhappiness and distress in marriages.

Consider a taboo

"India has a rich heritage of respecting the naturalness of sexuality and viewing healthy sexual expression as a source of heightened spiritual attainment.

But, in modern India, sex is a taboo and people shy away from talking about it openly," they said.

As a result, AIDS was exploding into a national catastrophe while problems of sexual ignorance were rampant. Recent statistics revealed that young Indians were especially at a risk and 37 per cent of the new AIDS cases reported were among people below 30 years.

A study among married men in the age group of 21 to 40 in various Mumbai slums found that one among every six men was afflicted with sexually transmitted diseases and one out of three reported at least one culturally based sexual dysfunction.

About 15 to 30 per cent of young unmarried men and 10 per cent unmarried women experienced premarital sex.

Urban youth, both men and women, were more sexually active than their rural counterparts while 40 per cent of the women seeking abortions were unmarried.

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