Daily O

How sex became frowned upon in India of Kamasutra

[Book extract] Manusmriti stuck with the British because Manu’s prudish values resonated with the Victorian culture.

Sex is a dirty word in India, but our population numbers are still booming. In the land of the Kamasutra, most Indians deem it inappropriate to teach children about sex at home or at school. In a country where family, the government and various institutions have stifled the subject, we continue to make babies and are all set to overtake China by 2030 to become the most populous country in the world.

The list of ironies around our attitude to sex is long and extremely baffling. Here are some more. We are shy about discussing sex with our spouses, but we worship with gusto the lingam, which is God’s phallus. We expect our women to produce babies but often do not offer them pleasurable sex — only 32 per cent of Indian women achieve orgasm, which is half as many as the men who said they do.

In fact, we have been hypocrites on this topic for a while, because a part of India’s sexual history is not very different from the present. The Rig Veda says that the vaginal blood from the bride’s deflowering is highly dangerous. If clothes are stained with this blood, they must be given away to a priest, or anybody who touches them will be destroyed. The Arthashastra provides guidelines on what must be done if a girl loses her virginity, and it also declares that a marriage is invalid if the girl is not a

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