Pre-marital sexual relations among youth in India: Findings from the youth in India, and needs study

K.G. Santhya, Population Council
Faujdar Ram, International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS)

A growing body of research indicates that despite socio-cultural taboos, youth in India do engage in pre-marital sex with a range of partners. Information is, however, practically non-existent on the factors that influence the timing and pattern of pre-marital partnership formation, and that facilitate or inhibit adoption of safe practices within pre-marital relationships. Drawing on data from a sub-nationally representative study of youth, this paper examines the extent of pre-marital sexual experiences; the extent to which pre-marital sexual experiences are safe and consensual; factors associated with initiation of pre-marital sexual experiences; and among the sexually experienced, factors associated with adoption of safe sex behaviours. Findings indicate that sizeable proportions of young men and few young women had engaged in pre-marital sex; moreover, where pre-marital sex was undertaken, it was largely unsafe. A number of individual, peer and family level factors were found to be correlated with pre-marital sexual experiences.

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Presented in Session 94: Children and youth