Promiscuity is just as common with rural youngsters
NEW DELHI: More youngsters are experimenting with casual sex than they did five years ago, according to a survey commissioned by the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO).
The Behavioural Surveillance Survey (BSS) 2006, conducted on 40,000 people between the ages of 15 and 24, found that 8.4 per cent, or 1.5 crore youngsters in the country, are snuggling up for pre- and post-marital sex.
The last survey, done in 2001, pegged that figure at 7.2 per cent. The survey was conducted by the ORG Centre for Social Research and NACO.
There is more reliable data to back those figures. According to statistics supplied by the government, 40 per cent of all new sexually transmitted diseases infect people in the age group of 15 to 29 years. Moreover, 15 per cent of successful pregnancies in India are reported by teenagers.
The survey found what most people already know, that men are more promiscuous and daring. It found that 13.1 per cent of men/boys had sex with non-regular partners in the last 12 months. The corresponding figure for women stood at 3.3 per cent.
Interestingly, this high-risk behaviour is just as common to urban youth as it is to rural youth. While 8.9 per cent of urban youngsters confessed to casual sex before or after marriage, the figure was 8.2 per cent in rural areas.
"Teenagers are usually in an experimental mood when it comes to sex," said a NACO official. "The disturbing trend is that a large number of youngsters between 15 to 24 years are visiting sex workers."
Equally worrisome is the fact that though 83.7 per cent of sexually active youngsters are aware of the importance of condoms, only 47 per cent use them consistently.
But 61.3 per cent of young people reported condom usage with non-regular partners during their last intercourse, with more women (61.7 per cent) using protection with non-regular partners than men (61.2 per cent).
The survey shows that awareness of HIV/AIDS has increased - from 73 per cent in 2001 to 85.5 per cent - and the stigma attached to the ailment is reducing. Yet, it remains a problem in rural areas. Of the 52 per cent of youngsters who showed willingness to share food with people with HIV/AIDS, 65.5 per cent are from urban areas as against 45.9 per cent from rural India.