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Teenage sex video sparks furore in prudish India


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#1 gossip80

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Posted 23 December 2004 - 12:47 AM

Teenage sex video sparks furore in prudish India

By Y.P. Rajesh

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - What started as two and half minutes of indiscretion by two teenage schoolchildren has turned into a major scandal which has cracked India's conservative facade and raised serious questions about parenting and sex education.


When a 16-year-old Delhi schoolboy used his phone camera to film his girlfriend performing oral sex on him, he could scarcely have imagined it would not only lead to his arrest but would also provoke intense national and international debate.


The chain of events has shocked tradition-bound India, the land which brought the world the Kama Sutra but where these days couples do not even kiss in public.


Police were alerted after the film clip ended up on the internet auction site Baazee.com, owned by U.S. giant eBay, and arrested its chief, an American citizen.


New questions about sex, privacy, technology and the legal system are being asked.


"We have been a very closed society and although sex has been around, it was always under the carpet so far," said Radhika Sharma, a mother of two teenage girls. "So this is certainly a desperate wake-up call."


The story surfaced a little over a month ago when the teenagers were expelled from a prestigious Delhi school after he was caught circulating the video, shot on his mobile phone camera.


Soon the images were circulating on the thriving underground porn market and selling on disc for as little as a dollar.


A 23-year-old student from a top engineering college then allegedly got in on the act, putting the clip up for sale on a popular online auction site. As word spread and the story hit the front pages of Indian newspapers, the student, the schoolboy and the owner of the internet site were all arrested.


NEW MORALS?


The scandal is just one of many controversies in recent months that signal that India's conservative veneer -- inspired by centuries of Victorian morals spread under British colonial rule -- may be fading under the impact of Western influences and a technological revolution, experts say.


Bollywood, India's prolific movie industry, has shed decades of inhibition to show kissing and even lovemaking on screen. Earlier this month, a newspaper published pictures of what it said was a Bollywood star smooching her boyfriend in public, provoking outrage and a debate on celebrity privacy.


Television shows openly discuss sex in ways inconceivable a few years ago. Last week, a lesbian couple got married in New Delhi, the first union of its kind in the public eye.


And a spate of sex surveys in leading magazines seem to confirm the signals -- more and more Indians are having more sex, and at a younger age. One survey published this month said in a sample of 217 Delhi school students aged 15-18, one out of 10 said they had had sex with a classmate.


Conservative India could turn a blind eye to its sexuality no longer, experts said.


"Our society was always full of these things," said sociologist Shiv Vishwanathan, adding that Victorian values had only buried them beneath the surface. "The Victorian system is cracking and that's why the scandals are getting so screechy."


It could be a much-needed wake-up to a country which is home to the world's second largest HIV (news - web sites)/AIDS (news - web sites) population and where most children leave school without any sex education.


"Firstly, parents are to blame as they are giving children credit cards, mobile phones, lots of pocket money and this exposes them to things ahead of their age," said Kiran Kakkar, a Delhi schoolteacher. "Parents need to draw a line."

Sangeeta Saksena, a student counsellor in the southern city of Bangalore, said the issues needed to come out into the open.

"An average Indian teenager is watching the same TV programme as an American teenager and the question that comes to mind is if they are doing it why can't we," she said.

"We need to talk to kids, give them information and moral inputs and instil some sense of responsible sexual behaviour."

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