If you’ve experienced unwanted sexual behaviour, remember only they have done something wrong, not you! You’ve no reason to feel guilty or ashamed.
Love and Sex Info
When Nakshatra goes out for a coffee with his mother, they’re both on the look-out for cute men. “Do you fancy that guy?” she’ll say.
Things haven’t always been this way. Growing up in a village, he became aware of his feelings aged 16. A year later, after a move to Mumbai, he told his parents he was gay. His mum said she wished he was dead.
Sex toys are banned in India. But stroll through Mumbai's Fort area and it won’t be long before a street vendor asks you discreetly, “You want some pleasure items?”
Show a bit of interest and he'll reveal a range of dildos, vibrators, sprays, gels, aphrodisiacs and studded condoms. Top sexologist Dr Prakash Kothari says the ban on ‘obscene objects’ makes no sense.
By Gayatri Lakshmibai
Mumbai’s street vendors sell a vast array of goods – everything from clothes and deodorants to electrical gadgets and antiques. To include sex toys among their stock, they need to find loopholes in the law.
Dildos and vibrators are sold as ‘massagers,’ while sprays and gels are meant for ‘enjoyment’. But one look at the graphic imagery on the packaging and you'll have no doubt what you're buying.
The price of the dildos ranges from 150 to 300 rupees (2 to 4 euros), the vibrating rings cost 150 rupees (2.50 euros), while the sprays, gels and creams can be bought for under 500 rupees (7 euros). Blow-up dolls, which can be produced on request, are a bit more expensive.
“Not many people come and buy things from us, ma'am. Only the really needy ones come looking,” a vendor says with a smirk.
“Everything's imported from China, ma'am,” he adds. What he probably means is that the stock is smuggled from China and sold here in the black market.
“According to section 3 of article 292, the sale and possession of obscene objects is illegal,” Mumbai-based lawyer, Swapnil Ambure says. “Sex toys fall under this category.”
Cases are regularly booked under this section, offenders caught and sent to prison. However, these offences are often considered petty and unimportant.
“There are people who like buying sex toys. But if the government were to pass a bill legalising their sale, the same people would create an uproar against the bill. This is the nature of Indian society – sexual pleasure is OK as long as it's under wraps,” Ambure says.
One of Mumbai's leading sexologists, Dr Prakash Kothari, says that this close mindedness towards the use of sex toys isn't something that has always been characteristic of India.
“You can find historic documents in the country, nearly 1600 years old, that talk about the use of apadravya which means an artificial penis. Today we call them dildos,” Dr Kothari says.
"So this is nothing new to our culture. In fact, in the Kama Sutra, it's clearly mentioned that if a man is unable to help a woman reach an orgasm, he could use these apadravyas,”
Dr Kothari attributes India's blinkered view towards sex to foreign invasion and colonisation. “When foreigners invaded the country, they brought the idea of ‘safety first, sex last’.
Curtains were drawn around the topic and nobody spoke about it. But things are changing now with Western influence and the media being more open about the issue,” he says.
So is there any point in outlawing sex toys? Dr. Kothari thinks they’re a good option if you can't reach an orgasm or don’t have a sex partner.
“People use sex toys when they have a high sexual desire but no partners, or when they can't attain an orgasm. It's a better choice than indulging in unknown partners," he adds.
"It reduces the risk of unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. It's a better option when used discretely and hygienically. It can have therapeutic value when people use it to attain orgasms.”
Photo: Stall selling sex products in Mumbai's Fort district (Gayatri Lakshmibai)
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