Consensual sex between two unmarried adults, the core of many a controversy and now a common urban reality finally got the Supreme Court’s nod yesterday in a hearing on film actor Khushboo's case. Five years back, when a bunch of self-styled moralists took her to court for being vocal about her thoughts on pre-marital sex and virginity, it snowballed from an unnecessary controversy to an issue opening up many important debates. In an interview to me for Marie Claire India in 2006 on an anti-moral policing theme, Khushboo had pointed out how a section of those who accused her for openness were themselves culpable of sexually exploiting hapless women. It was something she had witnessed happening often to extras and smaller artistes in the film industry. She spoke about hypocrisy vs honesty.
Today the SC agrees in principle that sex with consent among adults is legal but this much needed view comes a little late in the day. While the Khushboo case dragged, India’s moral dilemmas have shifted elsewhere. We are now in the age of Love, Sex and Dhoka, and Emotional Atyaachar, UTV Bindaas’s programme that ostensibly sets out to protect the betrayed—in love and sex. The bigger argument is no longer about whether young adults should have sex or not. They are having it as such an obvious part of open and often live-in relationships that they now need TV crews and not-so-private detectives to nail down adulterous partners frenziedly having sex in various other combinations. Betrayal is the big story now with monogamous relationships the casualty. It has over taken pre-marital or live-in sex.
With SC catching up on India’s behavioural realities, I wonder what its opinion would be on the contentious morality of spying partners accusing adulterous ones, in pre-marital relationships? Aren’t both sides transgressing the same line of trust in different ways? Or, does the regular sexual partner in a pre-marital relationship have more rights over those of one-night stands or a casual bed buddy?