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Wednesday, August 18, 1999 Published at 15:02 GMT 16:02 UK

World: South Asia

Indian women want more from their men

Tender moments are for the screen or courtship

By Delhi Correspondent Daniel Lak

Attitudes towards sex in contemporary India are changing.

There are signs in the growth of agony aunt columns and frank public discussion, especially among women, of love, sex, even orgasm.

A lot of Indian women are complaining that their sex lives just are not good enough.

[ image: Many people get their ideas about sex from films]
Many people get their ideas about sex from films
A rising divorce rate shows that for many married life is not as happy as the courtship and marriage.

One 32-year old woman, Meena, has been married for seven years, but says she has never had an orgasm.

She and her husband have a son, but she says she has never been able to enjoy sex, that making love was painful, and that she tried to find ways of avoiding it.

School yard

In India, young girls tend to learn about sex in the school yard, rather than the class room. There is no sex education at all.

Hear Daniel Lak's report on the changing views about sex in India
For generations, many young women have not been told that sex is to be enjoyed, an expression of love.

A lot of people in the urban middle classes get their notions about sex from racy films like Kama Sutra, its uncensored version is widely available on videotape.

Magazines like the local version of Cosmopolitan tell women how to attain the ultimate orgasm. But psychiatrist Achal Bhagat says such advice sits uneasily with middle class prudishness and only produces confusion.

[ image: Changing attitudes are reflected in India's magazines]
Changing attitudes are reflected in India's magazines
Journalist Pinky Varani, a Bombay social commentator, says that today's Indian woman has too much on her plate, much like her counterpart in the west, and that a happy sex life has to take its place in the queue.

And then there are the men. Dr Prakash Kothari says Indian men are having a hard time coping with newly empowered women who are aware of their needs in the bedroom.

He says men have not been used to bothering about their partner's satisfaction and that they need to learn that "sex lies between the two ears and not the two legs".

[ image: It is rare to see a couple holding hands]
It is rare to see a couple holding hands
Achal Bhagat says some women explore striptease, or have extra-marital affairs.

But while such activities may not be for all the changing attitudes towards sex in India are visible in films and newly suggestive song lyrics, magazine racks, and the way that women, increasingly, are speaking up and telling the world about their problems.

Now it remains to be seen if men shed the image of their fathers and the film heroes of yesteryear and learn to cope with the new Indian woman, in bed, in the office and in the street.

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