Sex before marriage in modern day Britain isn’t much of a taboo, but amongst the British South Asian communities there is still a huge stigma surrounding relationships and sexual intimacy before the wedding night. DESIblitz takes a further look into the issue.
having previous sexual partners is not readily accepted amongst South Asians
With sex and dating being accepted as a standardised form of finding one’s ‘other half’ in modern day Britain, it may be of no surprise to many that a survey of 150,000 British people has shown that the average number of sexual partners for women has doubled since the early 1990’s.
As bizarre as it may seem, despite the obvious increase of women having sexual partners in recent years, not all of these sexual partners have been men.
Studies have shown that four times as many women have same sex sexual experiences with women compared to 20 years ago.
Professor Wellings of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine provides a possible cause for this:
“We can see signs in the media that there have been changes in the representation of women. There have been celebrities who have apparently embraced same-sex experiences. We do see women kissing together and so on.”
Navintya, a 19 year old Mechanical Engineering student, also shares her views: “Generally it’s not considered strange for a woman to have a crush on another woman, for example, a celebrity.”
“People accept that a woman may be attracted to another woman but this doesn’t necessarily make her a lesbian. Women who just want to know the feeling of having sex may be happy with doing so with other women. It’s almost like having sex with no strings attached.”
But same sex relationships are definitely not seen as lifestyle choice that is easily accepted within South Asian culture. Despite the fact that such relationships are active within South Asian communities.
The same goes for sex before marriage within South Asian communities. Still today, it is something not openly discussed but is definitely taking place, even more than in the past.
British Asians are engaging in sex before marriage and many have had a number of partners, but it is likely that majority of them are not overly open about it, especially women.
For cultural, religious or even personal reasons, traditionally, men and women are expected to stay virgins until marriage. Sexual intercourse is sometimes seen as ‘the end of innocence and purity,’ and the beginning of the sexualisation of the individual.
From the statistics, it would only seem logical to hold the belief that generically sex before marriage is no longer such a taboo within society.
Unfortunately though, reality holds a very distinctive view on the matter.
For many, South Asians in particular, even having a past relationship is more than enough to put a blemish on their record when seeking a marriage partner:
“What they don’t know won’t hurt them,” says Rita*, a British Asian woman when asked about how much she would be willing to reveal to her future husband about her past relationships.
Although this may seem a deceitful attitude to have towards a future life partner, she defends herself by stating that there is no need for him to know of her past relationships, as her life with her husband will be a ‘fresh start’.
There are also the scenarios of young Asian women having other forms of sex and not losing their virginity to keep it in-tact for their marriage, hymen re-construction surgery, and having secret terminations, to stop marital partners finding out about their sexual past.
Because of the general acknowledgement that having previous sexual partners is not readily accepted amongst South Asians, this could possibly explain, and maybe, to some, even justify the many lies that are told to spouses regarding their sexual history.
Rhia*, a young woman from Britain was forced into marriage at the age 19 to a man in India. However, her husband was unaware that she had a boyfriend with whom she had a sexual relationship.
When she decided to do what she thought would have been the right thing by telling him the truth of her past, he would constantly use this against her, and eventually divorced her. He then said that the ultimate reason for the divorce was because she had sex before marriage.
This would, to many, be a good enough reason to hide their past relationships as it is more than evident that in such cases, it could save a marriage, especially amongst South Asian women.
To some this may also reiterate the misogynistic belief that it is acceptable for a man to have a past, but not for a woman.
Pooja*, a woman from India was married and subsequently got slapped with a divorce for not being sexually active enough with her husband.
However, the reality of the case was that she could only satisfy herself by masturbating, which led to the man feeling insecure with his own sexual abilities, consequently exposing the woman for catching her in the ‘act’.
This raises the point of partners who have been sexually active prior to marriage (in any manner); they may not be completely satisfied sexually with their partner in marriage, and therefore, could resort to other means of satisfaction, including affairs.
Unsurprisingly enough, the same does occur with the opposite gender. Raj*, a young British Asian man who shamefully admitted to having slept with over 100 women in the past year, states that he would never tell his future wife the exact number of sexual partners he has had, Yet, he still openly admits that if she were to have more than a certain figure in her history, it would, nonetheless, bother him.
Studies show that in Britain, fewer people are marrying or cohabiting, giving them less of an opportunity to have sex, meaning, as shocking as it may seem, the frequency of sex has fallen over the past decade to an average of just under five times a month for both sexes, aged between 16 and 44. This is in comparison to an average of just over 6 times a month in the last survey taken.
What is also worth taking note of is that, as a whole, sexual frequency has declined even amongst people who live with their partner.
To some this would appear astounding; how, in this day and age, where having sex is a norm, can it be that sex frequency has reduced?
Could it possibly be that new forms of technology such as smartphones and tablets are merely distractions, causing couples to spend less time together and are essentially taking the intimacy away from relationships?
To others not so much; there must be many who appreciate that couples are now spending more time together in other ways, rather than by just being intimate.
It almost brings back an element of innocent and meaningful love, which, to many, carries much more significance than just sexual relations.
* names marked with asterisk have been changed for anonymity
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