, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 1-17
Date: 11 Oct 2007

Attitude Towards Premarital Sex among Rural College Youth in Maharashtra, India

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Abstract

Little is known about the risky sexual behaviour, misconceptions and attitudes regarding sexuality and sexual health among rural youth in India. In order to understand these aspects, quantitative data were collected among 1,500 rural college students (800 male and 700 female) in the age group 15–24 years in the Thane district of Maharashtra, India, during 2004. Analysis of variance and regression analysis were performed using the total mean score of attitude towards sexuality as the dependent variable to determine the association and relationship, respectively, with background and familial characteristics. The results clearly showed that the majority of the students in the study expressed conservative attitudes towards premarital sexuality. Many students not only disagreed with casual sex but also considered it immoral. Gender bias i.e. permitting premarital sex for males and not for females, was reflected in their attitudes to some extent. Mean score indicated that male students had higher mean scores compared with their female counterparts and senior students compared with junior students, indicating more liberal attitudes towards sexuality. Bivariate analysis showed positive association between age; peer interaction; erotic exposure; habits of gutaka, tobacco, smoking and alcohol consumption; and knowledge about reproductive health issues with attitudes towards various sexuality issues. Multivariate analysis showed that female students studying in the commerce and science faculties were more liberal in attitude towards sexuality when compared with female students from the arts faculty. Male students with high erotic exposure (odds ratio 2.3); habits of gutaka, tobacco, smoking and alcohol consumption (odds ratio 2.7); and high peer interaction (odds ratio 2.3) had higher attitudinal scores indicated more liberal attitudes. Overall, the majority of the students expressed conservative attitudes towards premarital sex. The programme on sexuality education and responsibility for in-school adolescents should be launched early in secondary schools/college at an early stage of the perception process and formulation of attitudes towards sexuality. This would provide students with more scientific information and deter them from gathering incomplete information through sources such as pornography and peers.