India, as whole, has suffered from a very huge paradox for long: How does the land that produced the text of KamaSutra and the amorous sculptures of Khajuraho, has kept sex as a taboo? Vatsyayana wrote his epic work more than 1500 years ago, and yet, his text and related videos are kept in hidden folders, even by married couple. What went wrong?
Historians agree, that India had a very liberal view towards sex since the age of Indus Valley Civilization. The Aryans and the Dravidians only continued the legacy. While Kamasutra was written and Khajuraho witnessed acts of love on stone in the north, similar portrayals could be witnessed on the walls of Ajanta and Ellora in the south.For more than 2 millenniums, Indian society enjoyed an unparalleled sexual freedom.
The first change came with the advent of Muslim rulers. Bound by their religious doctrines, they tried to curb the sexual liberalism of India. However, as many sources tell us, with the passage of time, the muslims rulers instead blended with the existing culture, thus giving rise to a new culture that was still much liberal about sex.
The nail in coffin was actually the British influence. They saw Indians as barbaric, with their pluralism in Hinduism and the liberal views on sex (which was considered a sin in Christianity). Thus began a rapid change in the mentality of the Indian society, that is witnessed today.
The strange thing, is the selective preferences we show in matters related to sex. Rape scenes were frequently portrayed in movies, while kissing scenes were largely unheard of. A nude scene is what qualifies any movie as “controversial”.
It is believed, that time leads to progress. So, how have we progressed so far?
Distribution of Pornography is banned in India. However, accessing it is not. Which implies, I can watch it, but nobody can show me (makes no sense, but that’s how it is).Prostitution has been one of the oldest professions in India. While it’s operation is regulated by the government, it is frowned upon in general by the society. This stigma, along side lack of proper rights for the sex workers that are mandated in any other profession, has led to exploitation of sex workers for decades now.
But the ugliest part is yet to be talked about. The lack of willingness to talk about sex, which has led to a spree of crime against children. Children are not being made aware about what is sexual and what isn’t; a number of adults have confessed how they were molested during childhood, but it took them years to realize what it was. Even the cases that do reach the ears of the parents, are hushed up. Apparently, the news of their child getting molested is more shameful than the actual molestation itself.
And let’s not even talk about homosexuality and transgender-ism. Lesbian and Gays have been non-existent for most of the Indian society; it’s almost as if their mere existence is too shameful to admit for us. Transgenders are atleast acknowledged, but not accepted nevertheless. They are expected to clap hard and ask for money, anyone looking to move ahead in life is termed a “freak”. As a whole, the LGBTQ community is treated as an abomination, a disease that has to be treated before it spreads- all in the name of our culture, a culture that had established thousands of years ago, that human sexuality is river that can’t be tamed. A place where premarital sex (even with consent) is regarded a sin, one can imagine what level of hell must be reserved for the LGBTQ community.
Are we progressing? We have our doubts, but we have our hopes.
– Karan Singh