Premarital sexual relations among youth in India: Findings from the Youth in India: Situation and Needs Study
Presentation at the XXVI IUSSP International Population Conference, Marrakech, 30 September
Publication date: 2009
A growing body of research indicates that despite sociocultural taboos, youth in India do engage in premarital sex with a range of partners. Information is, however, practically nonexistent on the factors that influence the timing and pattern of premarital partnership formation and that facilitate or inhibit adoption of safe practices within premarital relationships. Drawing on data from a subnationally representative study of youth, this paper examines the extent of premarital sexual experiences; the extent to which premarital sexual experiences are safe and consensual; factors associated with initiation of premarital sexual experiences; and among the sexually experienced, factors associated with adoption of safe sex behaviors. Findings indicate that sizeable proportions of young men and few young women had engaged in premarital sex; moreover, where premarital sex was undertaken, it was largely unsafe. A number of individual-, peer-, and family-level factors were found to be correlated with premarital sexual experiences.