Some cheering events in India with respect to sex in the past decade
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“Love is something far more than desire for sexual intercourse; it is the principal means of escape from the loneliness which afflicts most men and women throughout the greater part of their lives.” – Bertrand Russell
If only it was as simple as Russell states! Sexual compatibility has always been one of the main factors that determine the life of a relationship, whether we accept it or not. If love is a rainbow, great sex is the pot of gold that waits at its end. Great sex can happen only in a country where there is freedom to choose your partner, freedom from threat based on religion or caste, freedom to make love to your loved one even if they are of the same sex, and freedom and safety to say ‘No’.
Is India heading towards such a heaven?
Best Sex #1 The Supreme Court’s ruling about same-sex relationships
In August 2017, in a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court of our country unanimously declared that citizens have a right to privacy. Further, the Supreme Court stated that this right to privacy also includes the right to pursue a same-sex relationship. Sadly, there is no mention about Section 377 of the IPC in the ruling.
The decision, which is a 547-page long document, states: “Discrimination against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation is deeply offensive to the dignity and self-worth of the individual. Equality demands that the sexual orientation of each individual in society must be protected on an even platform. The right to privacy and the protection of sexual orientation lie at the core of the fundamental rights guaranteed by Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution.”
Best Sex #2 Live-in relationship partners get legal rights
With the vast social advances taking place in our country in the last few decades, marriage is increasingly being considered as just a legality. However, the rights of such unmarried live-in couples are a grey area. In a landmark judgement on 13 April 2015, the Supreme Court has ruled that if an unmarried couple is cohabitating together, then they would be presumed to be legally married and the woman would be eligible to inherit the property after the death of her partner. The judgement, passed by a bench consisting of Justice MY Eqbal and Justice Amitava Roy, said that these women should get the same rights as that of a wife.
Best Sex #3 Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO)
A child is raped. The rapist is arrested. Either he gets away through legal loopholes or he serves a short sentence and gets back into society ready to prey on the next victim. Meanwhile, the child not only goes through the nightmare but has to relive it again and again in the police station and courtroom. This was the situation till 2012.
With the introduction of POCSO, a stringent law has come into force in our country that criminalises sexual abuse of children. The law has now become comprehensive and includes not just all forms of penetration but also acts of immodesty and even watching/collecting child pornography. Even consensual sex between two people, where one/both are below the age of 18, is criminalised. The Act also stipulates that any case under POCSO must be dispensed with within one year of receiving the complaint along with respecting the trauma of the child and making the child as comfortable as possible.
Best Sex #4 Indian corporate figures coming out
The rights and inclusivity of LGBTIQA employees in the corporate workspace was not clearly defined till recent times. However, with open conversations around LGBTIQA initiated by companies who are making genuine attempts to make a gay-friendly work atmosphere, the future looks bright. In addition, we have important corporate heads opening up about their sexuality, creating a bolder and safer place for all. In 2015, we had Radhika Piramal, Managing Director, VIP Industries, come out in public and speak openly about her sexual journey at an event in the Godrej India Culture Lab, Mumbai.
The Godrej India Culture Lab is headed by Parmesh Shahani, a multi-talented bubbling personality who is also the Editor-at-large for Verve magazine. Being the author of Gay Bombay: Globalization, Love and (Be)Longing in Contemporary India, Parmesh has always been open about his sexuality and how he is committed to creating an LGBT friendly organisation through policies.
Best Sex #5 The #MeToo campaign
Soon after the sexual misconduct allegations against American film producer, Harvey Weinstein, started piling up, women around the world started sharing their stories of sexual harassment and assault using the hashtag #MeToo to help people understand the widespread magnitude of the problem. The hashtag which was originally created by social activist and community organiser, Tarana Burke, was to promote empowerment through empathy. After millions of people shared their stories using the same hashtag, the purpose and meaning of the phrase has expanded with an emphasis to stop this cycle.
In India, lakhs of women filled Facebook and Twitter with this hashtag and made everyone realise how prevalent the issue was. The hashtag has woken up conversations about eve-teasing, acid attacks, molestation, etc. on a wide scale.
Related reading: Why can’t we admit to being abused, in our country?
Best Sex #6 Statistics on FGM
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) or Khafd is a common practice among Bohra women where a cut is made on the clitoral hood so that the female sexuality can be controlled. Parveen, a 29-year-old Sunni Muslim woman from Kerala states that the process has made her lose her clitoris and she feels no pleasure while having sex with her husband.
In December 2017, an affidavit submitted by the Ministry for Women and Child Development to the Supreme Court said: “At present there is no official data or study (by National Crime Records Bureau, etc.), which supports the existence of FGM in India.” In response to this statement, a survey was conducted by WeSpeakOut, a survivor-led movement to put a stop to Female Genital Mutilation. The survey shows that three in four girls from the Bohra community, a Shia Muslim group with roots in Gujarat, undergo FGM around the age of seven, though there is no mention of this practice in the Quran itself.
The survey, released on 5th February 2018, which is the eve of the ‘International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM’, has opened conversations about this practice and the Supreme Court is currently hearing a petition to put an end to it.
Best Sex #7 Public support
The amazing public support, thanks to online news websites and social media, for causes that did not get any attention before, has made the parliamentary and judiciary bodies sit up and take notice of public opinion. Recently, when the accused of the Kathua rape case were arrested, local groups and a few lawyers protested the arrests and tried to convert this atrocity into a religious and political agenda. However, the overwhelming support by the public has ensured that justice will prevail.
While we still have a long way to go before we can claim India to be an inclusive and protective country that cares about the safety and equality of its citizens, we are making progressive strides that will hopefully lead us to such a heaven soon.