From time immemorial a woman’s virginity has been her prized possession. Throughout history one will read about cultures across the world placing a high value on a woman’s virginity. But times are changing and for an increasing number of young men and women, sex is no longer the kind of taboo that it earlier used to be. And much to our older generation’s charging, pre-marital sex is a definite reality of our times.
In fact, these days, couples who are in a relationship have no qualms about getting sexually intimate with each other even though there may be no guarantee that the relationship will culminate into marriage. However, when it does come to the question of marriage, especially in the case of arranged marriages, a woman with a sexually active history still raises eyebrows and sets tongues wagging. What then is the big deal about virginity and how does this kind of a mentality hamper the lives of numerous women?
Just recently, a day after the Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (IGIMS) in Patna stoked a controversy by asking employees to declare their virginity, Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey on Thursday said there was nothing objectionable in this as he had looked up the term virgin and it translated to ‘unmarried girl’. In a marriage declaration form, the medical institute asks an applicant to declare if he or she is “virgin”. The form also seeks to know whether one is a bachelor, widower or married with one wife.
“The word which is used is ‘virgin’. It means kanya, kunwaari… (unmarried girl, maiden). I don’t think these words are objectionable. But still this issue is being raised. I had a word with the officials of the IGIMS. They said this is the format of AIIMS and since 1983, it is being used in every organisation of the country,” Pandey was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Are we living in the 21st century? This kind of mentality is largely because our “traditional values” are still strongly embedded in us. One of the most common questions till date, is ‘How do I know that my bride or girlfriend is a virgin?’ The only answer that I have to such questions is that there is no way to know. It’s just the man’s and his family’s inflated ego that results in such unrealistic demands. How then, does our traditional culture not hamper couples from engaging in pre-marital sex?
In a relationship, if a couple is to make it work successfully, it is more important for the couple to worry about virtues like trust and honesty. If a woman admits to a sexually active past, it shouldn’t be held against her. The very fact that she’s even admitting it, even though she could have very well hidden it, means that she is honest and that’s all that should matter.
For some men, however, especially those raised in very orthodox families or old-fashioned joint families, it’s the family members who tend to influence their decision. In many of these families, something like falling in love or sex before marriage equates to the girl being bold. Their reasons, hence, for rejecting such girls is that post-marriage, too, the girl will continue with the same behavior.
Most people in the metropolitan cities do not expect their partners to be virgins anymore because India has gone through a dramatic change in the past 10 years. India is no longer the closed society it was. The modern young Indian woman is working, independent and makes her own choices in life. It’s a change the Indian man has had to adapt to. Nonetheless, we cannot ignore that there is tremendous pressure on girls from smaller cities and more conservative families and virginity does still play a major factor when it comes to their marriage.
An intact hymen is not a sure sign of virginity.