Some months ago I was interviewing sex workers from Ganga Jamuna red light area of Nagpur, whom the police and local authorities were trying their best to evict from their homes. First of all, tenants – naturally women of the same profession – were made to leave their rented homes with some legal excuse. Then ‘customers’ who dared venture into the area were beaten up with lathis and cursed roundly. ( I saw this scene with my eyes and it was recorded by our cameras. When I asked if there was
curfew in the area that anyone seen on the roads was being lathi charged they finally withdrew).
It was then that this not-so-young – woman said something to me I will not forget:
” Didi, what will happen to society if we stop doing what we do? Our customers might be men, but it is the Nagpur wives whom we provide a service to! they do not want to have sex with their husbands, so they come to us. If we are not there, they will get beaten, thrashed and then raped. Violence in households will increase a hundred times.”
While I was ruing over this statement, two married guy friends made sad confessions to me that their wives had stopped having any interest in sex since many years… they had seen counselors, they had seen even sexologists, but nothing had helped. Their marriage was on the rocks, actually it was over. The only reason they made a pretense of being together was for the sake of the children.
First I thought they were exceptions, not all married couples could be like that?! Then I did some research on the internet and spoke to some gynecologists and the result shocked me.
There was general consensus that over 1/3rd i.e. approx 67% of Indian wives lose interest in having sex with their husbands. Quite a few of them have never liked ‘doing the act’ to begin with! They ‘give in’ till they have kids, and then motherhood and the ‘needs of the baby’ become a standard excuse to not have sex at all.
So what are the main reasons wives turn sex-unfriendly?
-Society and parental conditioning – For decades our films have conveyed the message that only vamps are sexy and sultry. “Good and virtuous women” do not expose their bodies, do not have ‘dirty thoughts’ and have pure minds and bodies. They only sing love ballads for Gods.
-Girls are never imparted sex education properly, even upto the time they get married. They always learn about it from wrong sources and often develop a distaste for it even before experiencing it.
-In our arranged marriage system, the engaged-to-be-married couple are seldom given a chance to get to know each other better before being thrown into the marital bed together. Forget the girls, even the guys are not counselled about how to treat a wife, with love and gentleness so that she will open up to you naturally and willingly. Sometime the ‘first night’ experience will scar a young woman for life.
-Even when the two have known each other and it has been a ‘love marriage’ there are factors that hinder intimacy like over crowded Indian homes and lack of privacy; the Indian family system where even grown up children sleep with their mothers/ parents and the mother is always afraid of the child/ children waking up at the ‘wrong time’. This condition of an Indian woman has been very well expressed in a Sanskrit shloka which I used to think glorified womanhood till the real significance hit me. “Woman is a wife momentarily but a mother eternally” it says.
-Fear of pregnancy. In most Indian couples it is upto a woman to practise family planning. She can take the pill, wear a Copper T or go in for an abortion if an ‘accident’ occurs. Husbands do not like wearing condoms, and many women resent it too since it leads to erosion and injury specially when sex is forced upon them when they are not ready or aroused enough.
-And finally, it is the attitude of men that puts wives off this intimate and loving act. They treat sex with wife as their birthright will claim it for physical gratification not realizing that for a woman it is her emotional needs that have to be fulfilled too… in short, they want foreplay.
So what is the end result?
-Many married women suffer from psychosomatic disorders, which show up as physical ailments. Like body ache, headache, migraines, general weakness and an apathy towards everything. These complains become further excuses for not having sex.
-Frustrated husbands can take to staying out, drinking, and finally patronizing sex workers.
-Physical abuse of a wife will increase and the man may also end up suspecting her of infidelity and having a lover on the side.
Unfortunately, this fear is sometime not unfounded.
If you have read between the lines well, the significant expression is ‘frigid towards husbands’.
Women are also creatures of the flesh and do have desires and sex instincts. It is one of the most powerful natural desires.
When a woman will not find it in her marital bed, she can as easily stray as any man.
Facebook and the ease of interaction through social media like Whatsapp, even messaging has made it very easy for strangers to connect.
There are many Lotharios who ‘specialize’ in identifying and hunting down lonely women and giving them all the (fake) romance they want. Towards one goal only – getting them in bed for their vicarious pleasures.
Sometime, as shown in the movie “BA Pass” an ambitious woman will herself snare a young man and use him “commercially” by lending him out to her friends as well.
In extreme conditions, this sexual frustration also leads to horrendous sex crimes where again unfortunately the law is applied quite lop lopsidedly.
Men who are genuine rapists will get away but a man and a woman who have had sex with mutual consent are always suspect in the eyes of society and even our police and our courts.
Thus after some months/ years of an affair, if an adult woman goes and complains that the man has ‘exploited’ her sexually with the promise of marriage, or a role in a film a modeling assignment or even a job, the guy is accused of ‘Rape’. There are well known cases where such guys are behind bars for 6-7 years already.
So what is the solution?
We need as a society to acknowledge that a problem exists and only being more open, liberal and informed about it we can solve it.
We are the country where ‘Kamsutra’ was written for God’s sake but now we have allowed narrow religious notions and conditioning to consider sex as something ‘dirty’ and unwanted. We need to break out of this mind set and learn to enjoy life and matrimony in all its glory and potential rather than treating it as a punishment!