Since long, Indians are obsessed with purity and whiteness. But recently, a TV ad has raised a scandal. It’s about a soap whose use enable the women to whiten their genital areas… in order to be more sexy, to be desired by their husband. That is to fulfil one of the four goals of life according to the hindu tradition : “kama”, the pleasure and particularly the sexual pleasure. ( The three other goals being righteousness, observing the cosmic law; financial and material success, social recognition; the ultimate one being salvation or liberation of the individual soul from the endless cycle of the re-births and re-deaths)
Indeed, the ancient hindu ( indian) litterature is full of sexual allusions, sexual symbols, erotic passages. In the Middle-Ages, the creation of the universe was represented as the union of a god and a goddess. Images of couples making love were sculpted on the temples walls. Sexual activity was then considered as a religious duty. Some sects even believed ritual mating was an efficient mean to attain salvation !
Sexuality was not considered as a mean to satisfy the bestial instincts of the male but as refined relations between two partners who were both looking for pleasure. The “kamasutra”( a book written in the VI-VII° centuries treating the different aspects of the private life : music, food, perfumes,…and sex) advised the cultured man to be attentive to his partner desires. ( The book was addressed to the noble men and the courtesans only, not to the “ordinary” people.) At this time, women were supposed to be obedient wives but they enjoyed some freedom : so, some advises were given on how to be seductive, how to cheat their husband. Then, the ideal woman had thick thighs, broad hips, a slim waist and ample breasts. She seemed to be made for the physical satisfaction.
But all of this changed from the 12° century because of the influence of the muslim invaders and later the british colonizers. Now, India has become a prudish country, where women are considered as second-class citizens. According to recent datas, at least 7 000 women die of physical or sexual agressions every year. 18 000 are raped and 175.000 are victims of domestic violences each year. Be they wives, concubines or relatives. And these numbers don’t include those who do not dare to file a complaint because they fear reprisals, the social stigmatization and family pressures. A far cry from the informations we have about ancient India !