Adolescent sexuality in India

In India there is growing evidence that adolescents are becoming more sexually active outside of marriage. It is feared that his will lead to an increase in spread of HIV/AIDS among adolescents, increase the number of unwanted pregnancies and abortions, and give rise to conflict between contemporary social values. Adolescents have relatively poor access to health care and less knowledge about their sexual health. With the cultural norms opposing extramarital sexual behavior "these implications may acquire threatening dimensions for the society and the nation."

One study has found that "76.3% were informed about sex", and only 2.9% had no information about sex at all.

Motivation and frequency

Sexual relationships outside the bonds of marriage "are not uncommon among teenage boys and girls in India." By far, the best predictor of whether or not a girl would be having sex was if her friends were engaging in the same activities. For those girls whose friends were having a physical relationship with a boy 84.4% were engaging in the same behavior. Only 24.8% of girls whose friends were not having a physical relationship had one themselves. In rural areas, 25.2% of girls have had intercourse and in rural areas 20.9% have. Better indicators of whether or not girls were having sex were their employment and school status. Girls who were not attending school were 14.2%(17.4% v. 31.6%) more likely and girls who were employed were 14.4%(36.0% v. 21.6%) more likely to be having sex.

In the Indian socio-cultural milieu girls have less access to parental love, schools, opportunities for self development and freedom of movement than boys do. It has been argued that they may rebel against this lack of access or seek out affection through physical relationships with boys. While the data reflects trends to support this theory, it is inconclusive. The freedom to communicate with adolescent boys was restricted for girls regardless of whether they lived in an urban or rural setting, and regardless of whether they went to school or not. More urban girls than rural girls discussed sex with their friends. Those who did not may have felt "the subject of sexuality in itself is considered an 'adult issue' and a taboo or it may be that some respondents were wary of revealing such personal information."

Contraceptive use

Among Indian girls, "misconceptions about sex, sexuality and sexual health were large. However, adolescents having sex relationships were somewhat better informed about the sources of spread of STDs and HIV/AIDS." While 40.0% of sexually active girls were aware that condoms could help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and reduce the likelihood of pregnancy, only 10.5% used a condom during the last time they had intercourse.

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