Tamil youth lag behind in sexual awareness

Tamil youth lag behind in sexual awareness

Sensual sensex

Only 29 per cent of young men and half of young women in Tamil Nadu know that a “woman can get pregnant at first sex”. They also believe that condoms can be used many times over. Sounds Kinky?

This and some other little known but sensational hard facts about Tamil Nadu youth, who comprise nearly 30 per cent of its 6.64 crore population, have come to the fore for the first time, thanks to a study, “Youth In India, Situation and Needs”.

The survey, covering nearly 8000 young men and women – both married and unmarried — across the State in the age group of 15-24 years, was jointly done by the Mumbai-based International Institute of Population Sciences (IIPS) and Population Council of India (PCI), New Delhi, under the auspices of the Union Health Ministry.

Releasing the findings at a press conference here on Tuesday evening, Shireen Jejeebhoy, Senior Associate, PCI and Dr Sanjay Mohanty, Associate Professor, IIPS, said this project had been undertaken in six states —Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Bihar, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh — besides Tamil Nadu.

In Tamil Nadu, though 96 per cent of young men have ‘heard’ of condoms, fewer (77 per cent) knew that “one condom can be used for only one sexual act.” Whereas, only 39 per cent women knew about this fact of condom usage.

Likewise, only 50 per cent of young men and 40 per cent of young women have “comprehensive awareness” of HIV transmission and prevention in the state, while only 21 per cent of young men and 17 per cent of girls had been exposed to sex education.  

Pre-marital sex

Significantly, in Tamil Nadu, despite a near 74 per cent literacy rate (as per the last 2001 census), much above the all-India average of 65.38 per cent, romantic relationships among the youth is “somewhat limited”. Only 9 per cent of young men and 2 per cent of young women “had engaged in pre-marital sex” within the ambit of romantic love tangles, while 23 per cent and 15 per cent of men and women respectively, reported getting into “romantic relationships”.

But what is worrisome is “most of these encounters were unsafe, putting young women at the risk of pregnancy and exposing both sexes to the risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STD).” Around 31 per cent of sexually active young men and women “had more than one partner, even only a dismal 5 per cent of them reported “consistent condom use.”

The data for the Tamil Nadu survey were collected during 2006-07 and the analysis and writing completed in 2009.  The six states were chosen to explore “diverse areas of young people’s lives such as education, employment, parental control, romance, pre-marital sex and marriage”, as they “by and large represent the heterogeneity of India,” said Shireen.  The reports for all the States will be consolidated and sent to the Health Ministry for policy initiatives in early 2010.