Welcome to our Sexual Health Guide! In this guide, we have tried to cover a range of topics listed below to help you stay safe and healthy! We will spend some time looking at myths as well as religious and cultural beliefs on sexuality, we give you advice on how to avoid sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unplanned pregnancies, and how to be smart about your body and protect it. We have also included information about menstruation, contraceptives and abortion. We hope that this guide will be useful to you!

A healthy body, a satisfying sex life, positive and satisfying relationships are all things which can help someone have peace of mind. So let us guide you to taking charge of your sexual health today!

CONTRIBUTORS & EDITORS: Lakshmi Adapa, Anu Chatterjee, Agnieszka Fal, Dina Ashour, Lauren Bolton, Charlotte Seeley-Musgrave, Aleksandra Lasota, Cheryl Lawrence, Parasuram Hanumanthu, Ina Elisabeth, Sonali Gupta, Kristin Mathiesen, Asma Parvez, Gul Rasool, Nooreen Khan, Nida Sheriff

TABLE OF CONTENTS (Click on the title to jump to the relevant section)





What is gender? How is it different to sex?

Sex and gender are often talked about as if they were the same thing, but in fact they are not!

Sex refers to biological differences; chromosomes, hormonal profiles, internal and external sex organs that define humans as ‘man’ or woman’.

Gender is a socially constructed definition of women and men. Gender is not determined biologically, as a result of physical or sexual characteristics of either women or men, but is constructed socially. Gender describes the characteristics that a society or culture considers masculine, feminine or any other kind of gender expression.

For example, if you have female genitalia then your sex is female. Gender is a more complex concept and depends on what norms, roles and relationships the society ascribes to a person, as well as on how the person views him or herself. Examples of gender roles often ascribed to women include being a homemaker, being sensitive or emotional and wearing women’s clothing, such as skirts or dresses. However, they may change with time, vary from society to society, and be affected by other factors such as age, race or ethnicity. That is why you can say that someone is ‘doing gender’ – they are living out the gendered expectations society has on them by acting a certain way!


What is sexuality?

It can be many things, including:

– Feelings for or attraction to other people
– Sexual thoughts, feelings and fantasies
– Sexual preferences

Sexuality is a complex phenomenon, which plays a central part in defining and shaping our family relationships, dating life and sexual behaviour. It is also intimately linked to how we feel about our physicality, to our reproduction and our body image. Different cultures approach sexuality in different ways, sometimes it is celebrated and sometimes it is treated with hostility. But, wherever you go in the world it is an integral and central part of human life, and it is important to embrace and understand it. Sexuality can be difficult to define, but it should always be a positive thing – fun, exciting and accepting! Amy Schalet seems to have captured its essence by defining sexuality as ‘the expression of an age-blind desire for meaningful intimacy and connection with others’ (Schalet 2004, quoted from Planned Parenthood website).

Sexual orientation is one of the central aspects of one’s sexuality. There are several labels people commonly use to describe their sexuality:

  • Straight/Heterosexual. Attracted only or mostly to people of the opposite sex or gender.
  • Gay/Homosexual. Attracted only or mostly to people of the same sex or gender (used by guys, and often girls too).
  • Lesbian/Female homosexual. Attracted only or mostly to people of the same sex or gender (used by women).
  • Bisexual. Attracted to both men and women. Some people use terms like pan or pansexual to say they’re attracted to different kinds of people, regardless of their sex or gender identity.
  • Asexual. Not sexually attracted to anyone.

It is important to know that your sexuality is not necessarily defined by who you have sex with – it is about how you feel and how you choose to identify yourself. What you choose to call yourself is up to you. Some people choose labels like queer, pansexual, or fluid. The important thing is that you choose what feels comfortable. You don’t have to label yourself today, or ever. For many people, what they identify as might change over time too, as sexuality can evolve and change over the course of your life.


What is sex?

People define ‘sex’ in different ways. A common misconception is that sex occurs only if a penis penetrates a vagina – but this is a very narrow definition. There are many ways in which people can be sexually intimate with each other, and there is no ‘right’ way to be intimate or have sex with someone, as long as both side consent to it. Here we have listed some of the common, different kinds of sexual activities:

  • Vaginal sex (penis-in-vagina intercourse)
  • Oral sex (mouth-to-genital contact)
  • Anal sex (genital-in-anus intercourse)
  • Penetrative sex (when something – e.g. a penis or sex toy – goes inside someone else’s body; vaginal, anal and oral sex are all types of penetrative sex)
  • Dry humping or genital rubbing (rubbing bodies or hands against genitals whilst wearing clothes)
  • Fingering or hand jobs (hand-to-genital contact)
  • Use of sex toys (e.g. vibrators: some people like to use sex toys as part of their sexual activity.)


What is consent?

Consent is very important when it comes to sex. It means giving permission for sexual contact with someone. Before having sex or engaging in any sexual activities
(like the ones listed above), you must always be 100% clear that your partner has consented to it and you must give your consent to them. Remember, you or your partner(s) may withdraw consent during intercourse too and that is alright; this must be respected. Consent is not an obligation. You can always exercise your right to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to sexual contact with anyone, anytime. Tell your partner if you do not feel like having sex or if you are not feeling comfortable. Remember that sex without consent is rape, which is punishable by law.

In a healthy relationship, it’s important to discuss and respect each other’s boundaries. You or anyone should never assume that once someone consents to an activity, it means they are consenting to it anytime in the future as well. Similarly, just because someone consents to one type of sexual activity (for example, hand to genital contact, or “dry humping”) this does not mean they consent to other types of sexual contact as well. Whether it is the first time or the hundredth time, a hookup, a committed relationship or marriage, nobody is ever obligated to give consent just because they have done so in the past. A person can decide to stop an activity at any time, even if they agreed to it earlier. Above all, everyone has a right to their own body and to feel comfortable with how they use it — no matter what has happened in the past.

Consent is what makes sex enjoyable for those who engage in it. Importantly, consent has to be ‘loud and clear’ – in other words, it has to be full and given freely. If you pressure your partner to consent to sex, or if you feel pressured by a partner, it is likely that you are forcing them or being forced to consent. Other factors, such as alcohol or drug intoxication, can also affect a person’s ability to give full and valid consent. Sometimes, it might be tricky to know what consent is and whether or not your partner is consenting to a particular sexual activity. That is why it’s always important to check with your partner (and continue checking as your sexual contact progresses) if they are okay with and enjoy the sex. You can read and listen to more information about consent here.


Is sex supposed to be painful? Why does sex hurt?

Some women may feel pain during sex, but that is not how sex is supposed to be. Pain is your body’s way of signalling that something is wrong and so should be taken seriously. There are many reasons why sex can be painful. For example:  you may be nervous about sex and therefore tense up, you may not have had enough foreplay or lubrication, there may be stress and tension in your life affecting how you feel in the bedroom, there may be size differences (such as the man’s penis being large and the woman’s vagina small),  you may have given birth recently and not fully recovered yet, you might be suffering from various conditions which may cause pain during intercourse. Previous bad experience with sex, for instance having been raped,might also result in pain.

Fear of pain can actually cause pain. When you worry that sex is going to be painful you get anxious and tense your muscles, which can cause physical pain. Your partner should be understanding and take time to make sure you are comfortable and relaxed. So, if you’re experiencing pain during sex, talk to your partner about it. It is not shameful, and it is not your fault. You can avoid the pain – and enjoy the sex more – by listening to your body, and asking your partner to do the same. Below are some reasons why you might experience pain and ways to deal with it.

  1. Women sometimes need more foreplay than men to be sufficiently aroused to enjoy sex. When a woman becomes aroused, the blood vessels in her genitals dilate. There is increased blood flow in the vaginal walls, which causes fluid to pass through them. This is the main source of lubrication, which makes the vagina wet and allows penetration to be easier and pain-free. By getting to know your own body, you can find out what works for you and also what turns you on. It’s also helpful if you have a caring partner you feel comfortable with who is willing to explore, communicate and make sure you enjoy yourself.
  2. Sometimes being aroused is not enough and some form of artificial lubrication might be helpful. You can buy this in a shop or online. Without sufficient lubrication, penetration can be painful and also cause small tears which may bleed and could lead to an infection.
  3. A stressful day can cause tension and if you have a lot on your mind it can be hard to get aroused and enjoy sex. Yoga, meditation, mindfulness and massages are things that can help you de-stress, but don’t forget that it’s ok to say no to sex if you’re not in the mood!
  4. If the man’s penis is quite large, and/or the woman’s vaginal opening is quite small, intercourse can be painful. Trying different positions can help as some positions that allow for deeper penetration can be more painful. Positions where the woman is in control of the in-and-out movement can be worth trying; for example, the woman being on top. Also, try taking it slowly and gently while using a lot of lubrication.
  5. Giving birth can be a tough experience both physically and mentally. You will be sore for a while after the birth, you will feel tired and you will have a baby that demands your attention all the time. The best thing you can do is to give your body time to heal and wait until you feel ready to have sex again. This could take weeks or even months depending on your circumstances – and there’s nothing wrong about it!
  6. Genital infections, such as genital herpes, trichomoniasis, and yeast infections can make sex uncomfortable and even painful. You may still have an infection even if you’re not experiencing any symptoms, so if you don’t think there are any particular reason for you to experience pain, a trip to the doctor might be a good idea.
  7. Rape, abuse and having had bad previous experience with sex can cause a lot of anxiety and tension, and make it difficult to enjoy sex. Talking to someone you trust, be it a therapist, doctor, your partner or a friend can be very helpful. You need an understanding partner who is willing to give you the time you need to feel comfortable.


What is a hymen?

You might have heard about hymens. Hymen is a thin, fleshy tissue that stretches across part of the opening of the vagina, and is punctured for the first time when a girl has vaginal sex. When this happens, some women experience pain and bleeding. Because of the possibility of bleeding, hymens have long been used as a “test of virginity”; however, that’s not entirely accurate. Here’s what Planned Parenthood says: “The hymen cannot grow back once it’s been stretched open. Having a hymen and being a virgin are not the same thing. There are other ways that a hymen can be stretched open, by inserting something into the vagina (like a tampon or a finger) riding a bicycle, or doing sports. And some girls are born with so little hymenal tissue that it seems like it was never there.”


What if I’m scared of having sex?

We know that having vaginal sex for the first time can be a little painful and uncomfortable. If you are being forced into sex, or stressed, it is of course even more distressing. Therefore, it is natural to feel anxious or even afraid. However, consensual sex can be and is enjoyed by most people, so even if your first experience is bad, don’t let that make you afraid of sex in the future. Take your time, and make sure you have your first experience when you’re ready and with someone who makes you feel comfortable.

When you have intercourse for the first time, there may be a small amount of blood, but this isn’t always the case and it usually occurs because the hymen has been broken during sexual intercourse. Anal sex can be painful for both men and women the first time, and there may be a little bleeding. There are things you can do to lessen any pain, such as a slow penetration and using a lubrication product. Some people find that inserting fingers into the anus before penetration can help.  

Sex is likely to be uncomfortable if you’re not relaxed and aroused. Make time for foreplay and remember that penetrative sex does not have to be the main goal! If you’re still finding it difficult to have sex, there may be an emotional reason or anxiety that’s causing problems. Speaking to a counsellor or sex therapist can help deal with underlying worries – you can ask your doctor about a referral. Common infections such as thrush and cystitis, which can cause pain during sex, can be easily treated with over-the-counter remedies. Check with your doctor if you’re not sure what’s causing the problem. Sore and itchy symptoms can sometimes be a sign of a sexually transmitted infection (STI) (see the section on STIs for more information about this!).




We have already established that sex is a central aspect of human life, so it makes sense for it to be discussed in both religion and tradition, which are of course central to human life as well. Sex is also a sensitive, or taboo, topic in many cultures, traditions and religions. Unfortunately, religious beliefs and traditions can often be a source of harmful superstitions, preconceptions and myths about sex, which makes it more scary and less healthy. Sometimes this takes the form of attempting to control human, and usually particularly women’s, bodies. That is why it is important to be wary of such superstitions. It is okay to experience your sexuality through your religious or cultural beliefs – if that is what you choose. However, it is extremely important to know that it is neither wrong nor shameful to enjoy consensual sex – regardless of what various traditions might say.


I had sex before marriage – am I a bad person? Will I be undesirable to my future partners and/or spouse?

The answer to the above questions is definitely not! While some people choose to keep their virginity until marriage, having sex before marriage is NOT bad or shameful, and it certainly does not diminish your value – as a human being or as a future lover, partner, husband or wife.

Sex is an integral part of a relationship, and a great way to build intimacy. As long as you and your partner are both comfortable and consenting to the sexual contact, there is no need to wait until marriage to experience this intimacy with your partner. It can be someone you are seriously involved with – and perhaps even think of marrying in the future, or simply someone who’s company you enjoy, or whom you’re attracted to. In other words, there is nothing wrong with having sex with someone you’re not married to or even committed to. The important parts are that consent and mutual respect are always a part of your sexual experiences. If you feel your partner is pressuring you or not respecting your wishes and boundaries, these are a warning signs that need to be addressed.

Some couples decide to wait with sex until they get married. If this is what you both want, it can be a beautiful gesture. However – even if you decide to wait with someone – your partner (or anyone else) has no right and no reason to judge you by your sexual past. If he or she does, talk to them and explain that such judgment is unfair and hurtful to you. When it comes to your own sexuality, any choice is the right choice. Having had sex with other people does not make you impure or less desirable – an understanding partner should be aware of that!


I had sex with multiple partners – does it make me a bad person? Am I impure?

Consensual sex is not ‘bad’ or ‘dirty’. It’s human, and it can be really beautiful. As long as all of your partners agreed to the sexual activity, having had sex with multiple partners is perfectly fine! Different people have different sexual needs, and also approach sex and intimacy differently. While some need to build trust and respect for a long time, some are comfortable with having sex with people they are not extremely close too – just given the basic respect and consent. Both approaches are natural and neither of them is ‘wrong’ Someone who only has sex with people they are deeply committed to is not a ‘prude’. Equally, someone who has sex with people they don’t know very well (given that there is a mutual respect and consent between the two partners) is not a ‘slut’. As discussed above, sexuality comes in all shapes and colours, and there is nothing wrong with it – in fact, it is what makes it so exciting and beautiful!


I’ve had sex, am I ‘loose’ now? Will my partner know I’ve had sex with someone else?

‘Vaginal tightness’ myths are prevalent in many cultures and are one of the common tools used to control women and their sexuality by shaming them for their bodies. In fact, there is very little truth to them. In reality, vaginas are an amazingly flexible organ – during penetration, they widen to let the penis (or a sex toy) in, and then afterwards they return to their normal size. So, having sex does not impact the “tightness” of a woman’s vagina. In fact, neither does childbirth – most of the time. So think about it – if your vagina can give birth to a child and ‘shrink’ back to its normal size, having sex should have no impact on how ‘loose’ it is.

If you’re still worried about being ‘loose’, it is also worth bearing in mind that the size or tightness of the vagina is not the most important part of the sexual intercourse. The view that most men prefer ‘tight’ vaginas and that they give more sexual pleasure to your partner is a myth.


Is sex supposed to be fun?

YES! Sex should be fun and enjoyable – for everyone involved! Of course, this is not the only purpose it serves. It can be a way of showing affection and building intimacy, and it can serve reproductive purposes. However, sex should be fun! So make sure you and your partner enjoy it – make sure it’s consensual, make sure you talk to each other about what you like and don’t like, and, importantly, make sure it’s safe! In the next section you can find more guidance on how to do that, and protect yourself from unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.





I don’t have my period yet, is this normal?
The answer to this question will depend on your age and a few other factors. Girls usually get their first periods between the ages of 8 and 15, however some girls reach puberty a little earlier or later than others. Most girls get their first period during the age 12-14 years old but if you haven’t got yours yet, it doesn’t  mean something is wrong with you. You can also ask your mother or other close female relatives how old they were when they first got their period because there is a higher chance that you will get it during a similar time due to genetic factors.

Some reasons for getting periods much later than average are:

  • Poor diet (low in nutrients, antioxidants or probiotics)
  • Hormone imbalances and disorders (such as PCOS, thyroid problems or even food allergies)
  • Being underweight
  • Over-exercising or increased physical exertion
  • High levels of stress

If you have any questions about your period, consult your doctor and let your doctor know if you don’t get your period by the time you are 15 years old.


My periods are irregular, is this normal?

Sometimes you may skip a period or get an extra period due to stress or change in lifestyle. For example, if you are doing extreme physical activity or have a change in your diet, your period could be a little late or early and all this is perfectly normal! It is also normal for the number of days a girl has her period to vary from 3 days to almost a week. This is because the levels of hormones that your body manufactures can be different from one cycle to the next. This can also affect the amount and length of bleeding.

The same reasons that were outlined above for having your first periods later than average, could also be responsible for irregular periods.

If your periods are irregular, try keeping some pads or tampons in your bag, just so you will have them handy in case your period comes when you are not expecting it.


When should I see a doctor about my period?

  • You have not started menstruating by the age of 15.
  • You have not started menstruating within 3 years after breast growth began, or if breasts haven’t started to grow by age 13.
  • Your period suddenly stops for more than 90 days.
  • Your periods are irregular for 3 years or more, or after having regular, monthly cycles. The doctor may prescribe hormone pills or other medications or recommend lifestyle changes that can help you to have regular periods.

Can I get pregnant on my period?

It is possible, but unlikely that you will get pregnant when you are on your period. If you had a short menstrual cycle, you could be fertile right after the period as the lifespan of a sperm is two to five days. It’s also possible to mistake breakthrough bleeding, spotting between your periods, for a regular period. So, you might experience bleeding during your fertile time. Do tell your doctor if you experience bleeding between your periods.


Do different sexual positions influence my baby’s gender? Or the likelihood of getting pregnant?

There is absolutely no evidence to confirm that different sexual positions influence your baby’s gender or the likelihood of getting pregnant. The most important factor is timing in your menstrual cycle to increase the chances of getting pregnant: usually about 14 days after the first day of your last period, if your cycle is around 28 days long or else, within a day or two of ovulation. There are several online applications on which you can track your menstrual cycle and your ovulation. These can be downloaded to your smartphone or you can log in using the internet on a computer. Some useful links are here, here and here.


I’m bleeding / spotting even though I’m not on my period. Is something wrong?

Not necessarily, but it may be a cause for concern. There are several reasons why you may bleed even though you are not on your period. For example:

  • You have recently gotten your period for the first time: common for spotting and irregular periods during the first 3 years of your menstruation.
  • Incomplete period from last time: this kind of spotting happens when your uterus didn’t manage to completely remove all of your lining during your actual period- as your new uterine lining grows, sometimes old pieces can fall out and cause spotting.
  • You just got a contraceptive device such as an IUD: During the first three to six months after you have inserted an IUD, it is very common for IUD users to spot.
  • You recently started, stopped or switched birth control pills: Changing estrogen levels in your body by starting or quitting the pill could lead to spotting. This generally clears up on its own after one to three months.
  • You have missed birth control pills: Missing a dose of your pills can often lead to spotting within the next following few days. You should take the pill immediately and spotting will stop soon after.
  • You took emergency contraceptives: the hormones in morning after pills can make you spot lightly after taking your dosage. Spotting is normal in this case but it is not your actual period and should not be taken as a sign that you are not pregnant.
  • You are stressed: Stress can cause your period to become irregular and hence this could lead to spotting.
  • A slow thyroid can also change your regular period cycles.
  • Spotting can sometimes be a sign of a real health problem including an STI like chlamydia, a miscarriage or cervical cancer. Consult your doctor if spotting happens frequently or if you don’t feel so great during period time.


What are the signs I am pregnant/should take a pregnancy test?

If you are think that you may be pregnant, or if you are worrying about it, it is always best to take a pregnancy test to be sure! Below are some early signs of pregnancy:

  • Prickling or tingling sensation in your breasts, particularly around your nipples, due to pregnancy hormones increasing the blood supply to your breasts. This can be one of the earliest signs of pregnancy and it is possible to feel your breasts becoming tender within a week or so of conception.
  • Missed periods if you are usually pretty regular and your period doesn’t start on time. Use pregnancy test to confirm if this happens.
  • Morning sickness is a common symptom of early pregnancy: you may feel sick, queasy or even vomit. It often starts when you are about six weeks pregnant, though it can start as early as four weeks.
  • Spotting is common at the time when you usually have your period. You may notice a slight pink or brown-coloured stain in your underwear, or when you urinate, or feel slightly cramping.
  • Urinating more frequently from about six weeks of pregnancy is normal. But if you feel pain, or a burning sensation when you pee, then there are chances you may have a urinary tract infection (UTI). Consult your doctor if this occurs.
  • Fatigue is a common pregnancy symptom, as your body cranks up to support your baby right from the early stages of pregnancy. Pregnancy hormones can also make you tired, upset or emotional.
  • Skin changes i.e. darker nipples are common during pregnancy. From about eight weeks, you may notice the circle of skin around your nipples (areolas) getting darker.
  • Food cravings can also be a sign. You may go off some foods, but develop a craving for others. This can happen very early for some, even before they have missed a period.


How does a pregnancy test work?

A pregnancy test is a diagnostic kit than can help determine if someone is pregnant or not. It tests the urine for a hormone called hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) which is released when an egg that has been fertilised attaches itself to the lining of the uterus. This hormone is only found when a woman is pregnant. If the hormone is present, it reacts with antibodies on the strip, which causes the strip to change colour.


Is it possible to have a period after you become pregnant?

It is possible to have a period after you become pregnant. Most women who do report that it is not quite like a normal period – perhaps lighter or shorter. This is usually due to implantation bleeding as the placenta attaches. You can repeat the pregnancy test to be sure, but positive is usually reliable unless there is a miscarriage. If the period was heavy, it is possible that you have experienced a miscarriage. It is believed that a number of miscarriages occur before the woman even realises she is pregnant. Again, repeating the pregnancy test would be the best thing to do.

How likely is a ‘false positive’ pregnancy test?

The amount of the hCG hormone in the body will double approximately every 2-3 days, and will be at its maximum 7-12 weeks into the pregnancy. A test is much more reliable when taken about two weeks after conception (or two weeks after your missed period) due to the amount of hCG in the body becoming higher as the pregnancy goes on. If tested sooner than the date of your missed period, the test can have a ‘false negative’ result. When they are used properly, a pregnancy test is usually accurate and a ‘false positive’ result is very rare. This could be caused by chemical interference, a faulty test or a very early miscarriage. A false positive result is non-repeatable, so it is recommended that a test is carried out more than once.


Where do I get a pregnancy test?

  • Supermarkets
  • Doctor’s clinic (a General Practitioner can test blood and urine)
  • Pharmacy
  • Sexual health clinic
  • Family planning centres
  • Online retailers such as Amazon/Flipkart

You can get a pregnancy test in India on Flipkart or Amazon or ebay.






What is contraception?

A method used help to prevent pregnancy. It prevents sperm from reaching and fertilising an egg which is how a pregnancy starts. It does not protect you from Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), unless you use male or female condoms.

There are many different methods available Choose the one that suits you, your lifestyle and your partner best by reading through this site, or talk to your gynecologist or any qualified healthcare provider to keep yourself protected.


What if my partner doesn’t want to use contraception?

Contraception is both your and your partner’s responsibility. If your partner says no to using condoms or other contraceptives after you’ve made it clear that it’s very important to you, you have an important decision to make. Ask yourself if you’re willing to take the risks that unprotected sex involves, and think deeply about whether you really want to be with someone who doesn’t respect what is really important to you.

Here are some points you can discuss with your partner:

If he says: “If you love me, you’d let me have sex with you without a condom.”

You can: Make it clear to him that this isn’t a valid reason. For instance, you could have used the same line and said “If you love me, you’d use a condom”, but you didn’t. You came up with mature, valid reasons regarding your health and wellbeing.

If he says: “Stopping to put on a condom will ruin the mood.”

You can: Tell him that this doesn’t have to be true. If you keep condoms nearby and/or come up with a fun way of putting them on, it can actually add to the mood instead of taking away from it.

If he says: “My penis is too big for condoms”. (Some guys actually say this, but it’s not true).

You can: Tell him that condoms stretch to accommodate different sizes. If he’s putting the condom on correctly and it really is too tight, there are brands of condoms that come in extra-large. You can even offer to buy a pack for him.

What are the different types of contraception?

Contraceptives in India are still  not a widely discussed subject often leaving women with no or little choice as you can see here.

Read more about the different types of birth control here.


Condoms are generally cheap, easy to use and they protect against STDs. When used correctly they are 98% effective at preventing pregnancy.

How to use a condom

Types of condoms available in India:

  1. Unflavoured: This is widely used for protected sex. It is important to know about how to put it on, how to store it and to have a check on its expiry date.
  2. Ribbed:  These condoms have ribs on the outer layer to increase stimulation for the woman and these ribs help the woman to reach orgasm at a quicker pace.
  3. Dotted: These condoms have dots moulded on the exterior surface of the condoms which is ideally suited for a different experience.
  4. Long lasting condoms:  Excellent for those who ejaculate prematurely. They contain benzocaine that numbs the tip of the penis which allow the man to last longer before reaching orgasm.
  5. Big head condoms are size specific.
  6. Extra lubricated:  It will lead to pain-free sex as it helps in preventing friction.
  7. Warm condoms: These condoms are lubricated with warming agent.
  8. Ultra thin condoms:  These are lubricated and super thin .
  9. Aloe vera condoms : They have aloe vera or natural lubricant for pain-free sex.
  10. Flavoured condoms: There are several flavours of condoms available in India like vanilla, banana, strawberries etc. They reduce the risk of STDs during oral sex.

Top brands of condoms available in the stores are:  Manforce condoms, Moods condoms, Durex Condoms, KamaSutra condoms and Deluxe Nirodh.


Birth control pill

Also known as “the pill”. A pill that has to be taken every day. Combined pills contain two hormones, estrogen and progestin. These hormones prevents eggs from being released, and makes the mucus around the cervix thicker which prevents sperm from reaching the uterus.

Taking the pill can be helpful for women who experience heavy and painful periods, it can help with acne, it may improve PMS and it can also reduce cancer risk.

But not everyone should take them because every woman’s body reacts differently to the pill, so it is extremely important to consult a health practitioner before you start taking them.

Mini-pills, or progestin only pills only contain progestin and have to be taken at the exact same time every day to work properly. They work by make the mucus thicker.

Combined pills can be used to skip a period should you wish to do so. How this is done depends on what type of pill you are taking.

Read more about skipping periods here, about the combined pill here and the mini pill here.


What is the pill?

Birth control pills are made from two main hormones: progesterone and estrogen. There are some progestin only pills too. Progestin-only options are a good option for people who do not want to take estrogen, however they do increase the frequency of unpredictable vaginal bleeding for about a year or more after starting them.

The majority of contraceptive pills have 3 weeks of what’s called ‘active’ pills and one week on ‘inactive pills’ in a monthly packet. The active pills are the contraceptive part and have hormones in them, the inactive pills don’t contain any hormones, and are most often made of sugar. Other types of pills will just have three weeks worth of active pills per month, and for the remaining days you don’t take anything.

You bleed during the week you’re either not taking any pills, or taking the inactive sugar pills, when the hormones are no longer in your body. You can regulate your own periods depending on how you take the pill. If you continue to take active pills (with hormones) beyond the usual 3 weeks, your period will be delayed as long as you keep taking it.  Some people choose to prolong the time between breaks from active pills, so that they don’t have a period (perhaps because of an event, or for any other reason).

Control the regularity of your period

The contraceptive pill can help with irregular periods and can be used to make your period come on a monthly basis, roughly on a schedule that you’ve planned.

When your menstrual cycle is longer than 35 days – that could be a sign of low progesterone. Not making enough progesterone, prevents your uterine lining from thickening very much, which can cause irregular periods. Excessive thickening in your uterine lining can result in heavy bleeding and an increased risk in abnormalities, including cancer. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common causes of irregular periods.

Since contraceptive pills have an ingredient (progestin) with a similar effect to progesterone in the body, they can help regulate a menstrual cycle and protect the uterus lining against pre-cancer or cancer.

Prevent heavy or very painful periods

Progestin (a synthetic hormone in the pill) can make the lining of the uterus thinner which results in lighter bleeding episodes. In some instances, women may not bleed during the time when they are either taking the inactive pills or not taking the pill at all.  This is quite rare, however, do get medical advice if this has happened to you and you are concerned.

Most women experience menstrual cramping and some will experience it more severely than others. A chemical called prostaglandin, which is produced during your period, is what can cause menstrual cramps. Contraceptive pills reduce the amount of prostaglandin that the uterus produces (through preventing ovulation) and in this way, can lessen the experience of painful cramps.


Improvement of PMS

Contraceptive pills prevent ovulation, and this can also prevent the symptoms of PMS.  Many women who have PMS or PMDD have reported an improvement in their symptoms while they are on the pill.

Treatment for acne, and reduction in excessive hair

A high amount of androgens in the body, or androgen sensitivity can increase hair growth in women. Birth control pills can reduce this effect of androgens and reduce hair growth in 6 months of use.  Birth control pills can also help control acne.

Other health benefits of birth control pills

Since the pill stops ovulation, there are fewer cases of anemia (low red blood cells), ovarian cancer, and uterine cancer in women who use birth control pills.

You can read the original article from WebMD, with a bit more of the science behind why, here.


Side effects

There are some common side effects of the pill, which include spotting (light bleeding between periods), missed periods, headaches, nausea, breast tenderness, weight gain, mood changes, vaginal discharge, decreased sex drive and visual changes with contact lenses. Read more about them here.

IUDs (Intrauterine Devices) are inserted into the uterus to avoid pregnancy. It is one of the most effective forms of contraception. Copper-T is the most prominently used contraception.

The newer IUDs contain hormones that are slowly released into the uterus. Mirena is the example of one such IUD which contains the hormone levonorgestrel. Mirena does not affect one’s periods and helps in reducing excessive bleeding.

For inserting IUDs, a very minor procedure has to be performed by a doctor or specially trained nurse, and it is effective for five to ten years depending on the type.

You will have to use condoms as well if you want to protect yourself from STDs as the IUD does not provide any protection against diseases.

Read more here.


Vaginal ring

This is a soft, flexible ring which has to be inserted into the vagina and it works similarly to the pill in that it releases hormones that prevent pregnancy, but unlike the pill, the ring is effective for three weeks so it does not have to be changed every day. You can insert it yourself.
Vaginal rings do not protect against STDs.

Read more here.

Birth control patch

This is a  small, skin coloured patch that that sticks to the skin. It releases the same hormones as the pills which is then absorbed by the skin. It must be replaced once a week for three weeks in a row, followed by a patch-free week before you start over again. It does not protect against STDs.

Read more here.


Tubal ligation

Also known as “tying the tubes”, this a permanent form of birth control where the fallopian tubes are closed through surgery. This prevents the egg cells from travelling down to the uterus and thus preventing pregnancy.

Hysteroscopic tubal occlusion procedure is another method where coils are placed in the tubes at the point where they connect with the uterus. This is done through the cervix, and unlike tubal ligation it doesn’t require any cuts in the abdomen. It can sometimes be performed in a clinic setting without the need for general anesthesia.

These procedures are usually only recommended for older women who are certain that don’t want any more children.
Major surgery can sometimes restore the ability to become pregnant, and more than half of the women who have tubal ligation reversed are able to become pregnant.

A hysteroscopic tubal occlusion on the other hand is very hard to reverse, and IVF might be the only option.

Read more here.


Where to get these contraceptives?

Most contraceptive pills are commonly available at medical stores or chemist shops. They are also available online and can be ordered online from medical stores or  on sites like HealthKart,, Amazon,, Natural, eBay, etc.

Contraceptive pills available on Amazon:

  1. After Pill emergency contraceptive pill. Price: $ 25 + $ 5 shipping
  2. Plan B one step Emergency contraceptive 1 Tablet. Price: $34.80
  3. My way emergency contraceptive 1 tablet. Price: $31.80
  4. Options Conceptrol contraceptive gel with 10 pre filled applicators. Price: $11.57
  5. Today sponge vaginal birth control. Price :$10.66

There are total 19 emergency contraceptive pills over this site.

UNIPILL and Saheli contraceptive pill is available in Flipkart which costs Rs.545 and Rs. 30  respectively.


SAHELI is also available on Ebay, Snapdeal and Amazon.

Snapdeal also has Unwanted 72.

Condoms are also available online at Flipkart, Shycart, Amazon, condomking, alibaba and HealthKart.


Are over-the-counter (do not need prescription) oral contraceptives available in India?

The morning-after pill (emergency contraception) is available online as well as in pharmacies for approximately Rs.100. You should not use these as a form of birth control, only in times of emergency. A popular brand is known as “i-Pill”.  High and low dose hormonal contraceptives are also available in pharmacies without a prescription, such as “Saheli”.


Do I need to use contraception after giving birth?

Yes! It is a myth that you can’t get pregnant whilst you are breastfeeding your baby. You can also get pregnant even if your periods haven’t returned yet. You can start taking the pill on day 21 after you gave birth if you are not breastfeeding, and you will then be protected against pregnancy straight away.
If you start taking the pill later than this you will need additional contraception, like condoms, for the next 7 days.

If you are breastfeeding it is not advisable to take regular birth control pills as they affect your milk production. It is better to take a progestin-only pill, also known as mini pill, as it won’t reduce the milk supply. Just be aware that the mini pill must be taken at the exact  same time every day to work properly.

Read more here.


What is emergency contraception?

Emergencies include being raped, having a condom break or slip off during sex, or missing two or more birth control pills during a monthly cycle. Emergency contraception can be used to prevent a pregnancy in the above situations but not to end one!

Emergency contraception comes in the form of a pill that must be taken within the first 72 hours of unprotected intercourse. The sooner you take the pill the more likely it is to work. It contains high doses of estrogen that prevent the implantation of the embryo. Depending on the brand and how soon after intercourse the pill is taken, the success rate will be between 80-90%. Intrauterine contraceptive devices can be inserted up to 5 days of intercourse, which will also prevent implantation. Please note that you and your partner should consult a gynaecologist before you consider taking any of these pills.

Here is a useful website listing the top 8 emergency contraception pills available in India.



1) Copper releasing IUDs such as CuT 380A and

2) oral contraceptive levonorgestrel (0.75 mg tablets) does not need any prescription and can be accessed over-the counter.


Availability of Emergency Contraceptives

The Indian Medical Association  advises that high doses of combined oral contraceptive containing ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel and Copper-Ts can be used as emergency contraceptive but the Drug controller of India has only approved  in 2001 levonorgestrel 0.75 mg tablets for use as emergency contraceptive pills. On AUGUST 31, 2005, nonprescription, over the counter access to levonorgestrel-only emergency contraception was approved.

Most of the emergency contraceptives are available in the pharmaceuticals or medical stores and some of them are also available online. Condoms are available in the medical shops too.


Are over-the-counter (do not need prescription) oral contraceptives available in India?

The morning-after pill (emergency contraception) is available online as well as in pharmacies for approximately Rs.100. You should not use these as a form of birth control, only in times of emergency. A popular brand is known as “i-Pill”.  High and low dose hormonal contraceptives are also available in pharmacies without a prescription, such as “Saheli”.


Does using contraceptives cause problems for conceiving in the future?
No, there is no evidence to suggest that! Numerous studies have shown that the rate of getting pregnant in women discontinuing birth control are similar to those who have not used hormonal contraceptives.

  • Condoms can help your fertility by protecting you against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as chlamydia and gonorrhea, which can lead to infertility.
  • The pill can help preserve your fertility by lowering your chances of getting uterine and ovarian cancer. It can also suppress the symptoms of endometriosis, in which the uterine lining grows outside the uterus, causing fertility problems.
  • Depo-Provera, a contraceptive injected into a woman’s arm or buttocks once every three months to prevent ovulation, is not intended for women who want to get pregnant any time soon. The median time for return to fertility is 10 months after the last shot, though pregnancy can occur as soon as three months after. A year and a half after the last shot, the rate of pregnancy for former Depo users is the same as the general population’s.

When the IUD is removed, the return to fertility is fairly rapid, somewhere between the rate of the pill and Depo-Provera.


Do contraceptives cause any health problems?

Contraceptives which contain hormones, like the pill, injections, vaginal rings and some IUDs, may cause side effects in some women, such as a low mood or a decreased sex drive. Although, many women never experience side effects, or only experience them briefly when they first start using hormonal contraception.

However, it is crucial to know what the side effects are when taking any sort of medication. Not all methods of contraception might be suitable for you. Hence, there is good reason to be proactive about it.

Talk to your doctor about the possible side effects as well as any other medication or supplements you are taking. If you are facing any of the side effects mentioned below, immediately tell your doctor who will then change the dosage or prescribe you a different contraceptive.

A comprehensive list of some birth control methods with their failure rates and possible side effects can be found here.


If I put my legs up straight after sex, does that stop conception?

Oh no, please don’t. The only way to stop conception is to use a contraceptive e.g. condoms, the pill etc (as mentioned above).

Can I get pregnant from oral sex?

Oral sex will not get you pregnant, but it is still possible to catch sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Use condoms – most manufacturers make flavoured ones for a pleasant experience – or dental dams to prevent the contraction of an STI.

You can read more about dental dams here.


Can I only get cervical cancer if I have multiple sexual partners?

Not exactly, but the reason why having multiple partners is commonly associated with cervical cancer is because it is difficult to test if men are HPV positive*. Cervical cancer is caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) which is generally contracted during sex. This can easily happen as a result of sex with your partner. There are over 100 strains of HPV many of which are harmless, but some strains cause changes to cells in your cervix which, if left untreated, can become cancerous. You can still have multiple sexual partners and avoid contracting HPV essentially by using condoms. It is important to go for regular checks with your gynaecologist as there are usually no symptoms of cervical cancer at the early stages.
You can read more about HPV and Cervical Cancer here.
Read why it is hard to test for HPV in men here.


What contraceptives can I take secretly?

Birth control is not just a woman’s issue. Men benefit from the use of birth control in many ways, including being able to decide when and if they will father a child, and being able to protect themselves and their partners from sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Your partner should love and respect you, and support your decision to use birth control.

But if for any reason, you end up in a situation where you have to keep your birth control private from your partner or anyone else, then here are some options:

  1. Depo-Provera (Available in India & Pakistan)

An injection given by your doctor in your arm or your buttocks. Each shot works for 12-14 weeks but you must get this shot every 12 weeks to get yourself fully protected. Since this is a shot, no one- not even your partner- will know about it unless you decide to tell them. It might be difficult to go to the clinic to get this injection four times a year without anyone knowing about it, but it is much easier than hiding pills that you have to take every day.

2. Implanon (Available in India & Pakistan)

A single rod contraceptive, which releases small amounts of hormones every day, is implanted under the skin of your upper arm and is effective for three years. For a day or two after the doctor inserts it, you will have a bandage and you may experience bruising around the insertion site. But once it is healed, you may remove the bandages and no one can see that the rod is there.


Do contraceptives make me gain weight?

It is rare but for a few women, the contraceptive pill may cause some weight gain- not significant amounts, most likely temporary and not for most women! Studies showed no evidence that the contraceptive pill causes weight gain in most users.

Read more here.

How did the myth about the contraceptive pill and weight gain get started?

Contraceptive pills were first sold in the early 1960s, and had nearly 1,000 times more hormones than most women needed. Oestrogen in high doses can cause weight gain. So, the contraceptive pill may indeed have caused weight gain in some women but today’s oral contraceptives have much lower amounts of hormones.

Contraceptive pills remain one of the most effective forms of contraception available when used correctly.

Read more here.


What are the problems with pulling out?

The ‘pulling out method’ involves the man pulling out his penis from the woman’s vagina before ejaculating. It may seem safe, but it is not necessarily so. Of every 100 women whose partners use withdrawal, 4 will become pregnant each year if they always do it correctly. Of every 100 women whose partners use withdrawal, 27 will become pregnant each year if they don’t always do it correctly.

  • Even if a man pulls out in time, pregnancy can still happen! Pre-cum, or pre-ejaculate can pick up enough sperm left in the urethra from a previous ejaculation to cause pregnancy.
  • The main problem with pulling out is that your partner must be careful and responsible enough to do it correctly every single time. It also does not protect against STD’s.

Read more about the pull out method here.


Can I wear two condoms at the same time?

No. Using two condoms can increase friction between the condoms during intercourse, weakening the material and making them more likely to tear.


Visiting a gynaecologist

Who is a gynaecologist?

A gynaecologist is a surgeon and usually a Medical Doctor (M.D.) who specializes in diseases of the female genital tract and women’s health. This means diseases of the uterus (womb), fallopian tubes, ovaries, cervix (opening of the womb), vagina, and vulva (external genital organs). A gynecologist also specializes in menstrual problems, contraception, sexuality, menopause, and infertility. Many gynecologists also provide prenatal care. Some gynecologists may perform primary care services depending on their experience and training.

Most women should go to a provider for routine annual pelvic exams. Don’t be scared to go to the gynecologist – remember that this is their job, they are trained and you have nothing to feel ashamed about in front of them. Visiting a gynecologist is also more appropriate if there is a history of women’s problems in the patient or her family, or if there is a condition which is not improving despite the primary care provider’s best efforts. Another indication that a gynecologist may be preferred is if a woman always has a difficult or painful exam due to her size (large or small). A gynecologist may have better equipment available to assure her comfort.

What should I look for in a gynecologist?

A gynecologist should be a person in whom you have confidence and with whom you feel comfortable. This provider should be appropriately accessible during emergencies and be willing and eager to answer your questions. Even if your gynecologist is very busy you should feel that he or she has the ability to slow down and answer your questions.

When should you start your gynecologic checkups?

Your first appointment will likely occur between 13 and 15 years old. Some women wait to start their gynecological examinations until they have sexual intercourse for the first time, or until they have a symptom or problem such as an abnormal vaginal discharge, vaginal burning, strong menstrual cramps or irregular periods. There’s no need to wait. The sooner you start regular exams the better!

What will happen at your first gynecological appointment?

It’s normal to feel nervous, but there is really nothing to worry about. Your first appointment is usually very simple, and your doctor will spend time getting to know you. The doctor will ask about you and your family’s medical history and your sexual health. Many women may feel uncomfortable discussing such personal issues, but being honest is important because it will allow the doctor to give you any help you might need.

What are gynecologic examinations?

There are four types of examinations that you may have during your visit. Each type depends on the length of your first appointment, your age, your sexual history and whether or not you have any particular symptoms.

If you are going to have any tests, the doctor will explain them first so you don’t have to be anxious. The doctor will instruct you to go to the bathroom or a changing room to undress in private and put on a gown. It’s normal to feel uncomfortable about being naked, but the gown will cover you, and the doctor will only uncover the areas needed for the examination. Also, remember that all women are tested in the same way.

The four kinds of examinations are:

  1. General physical examination: as with any medical examination, your weight, height and blood pressure will be measured.
  2. Breast examination: your doctor will check your breasts with his or her fingers to detect whether there are any lumps or abnormal discharge.
  3. Pap smear: the Pap is the scraping off of a few cells that cover your cervix. The doctor uses a special brush and then sends the sample to the laboratory to check for the presence of abnormal cells.
  4. Pelvic examination: this test is not performed on all women unless they’ve had sex or have certain symptoms in their vagina or abdomen. To do the test, your gynecologist will ask you to lie on the exam table with your feet in special stirrups and your legs open so he or she is able examine your vagina.  Using gloves, the gynecologist will check your vulva (the outside of your vagina) to rule out signs of infection. Then he or she will open your vagina with a speculum (a metal or plastic instrument) to shine a light inside and take samples of a few cells that will allow her to tell if you have any STDs (sexually transmitted diseases). If necessary, he or she will also take a Pap smear at the same time. Finally, the doctor will insert one or two fingers of one hand into the vagina while pressing on your abdomen in order to feel your cervix, ovaries and womb. This is to assess their size, see if there are cysts present, etc. It can be a bit uncomfortable, but if you’re relaxed the examination is usually not painful.

How should you prepare for your first appointment?

  • First, choose a doctor with whom you feel comfortable.
  • Ask for the appointment on a day when you know you will not be having your period.
  • Before going to the doctor’s office, think about what you’d like to ask about your sexual and reproductive health. There are no stupid questions. Ask about anything you’re unclear about.  If it helps, write down a list of the things that concern you: your vaginal health, contraception, unusual pain in your breasts, questions about your menstrual period, etc.

The first appointment can produce the most anxiety, but the next ones will be much easier. The good news is that if you’re uncomfortable with the doctor you chose, you can always choose another one. It’s important that you find a gynecologist you trust. You should see your gynecologist on an annual basis to maintain good vaginal health.

Useful information:

9 Questions to Ask Your Gynaecologist:

Crowdsourced list of gynaecologists in India we can trust (






What is family planning?

Family planning is the practice of controlling the number of children one has and spacing the intervals between each birth by using methods of contraception.

Why is family planning important?

Without family planning, women and their partners are more at risk of having unintended pregnancies. Unintended pregnancies are connected with negative health, social and economic consequences. Negative outcomes may include delays in initiating prenatal care, reduced likelihood of breastfeeding and maternal depression. The child also suffers negative consequences as a result.

What are the benefits of family planning?

When women and their partners choose to family plan, this decision leads to positive health, social and economic outcomes for women individually along with family and societies. It enables people to make informed choices about their sexual and reproductive health.

The benefits of family planning include:

  • The chance of the mother and babies being healthy increases, because family planning allows spacing between pregnancies in females who are at risk of health problems from childbearing
  • It enables you to set and limit family size according to your and your partner’s wishes
  • Reducing the rate of unintended pregnancies will reduce the need for unsafe abortions
  • It enables young men and women to plan having a family around other priorities in their lives, such as work and education
  • It helps partners knowing that they are in agreement about what they want from having a family together

Who provides family planning?

Midwives are trained to provide authorized contraceptive methods. Other trained health workers such as community health workers provide counselling and methods such as the pill and condoms. You can also get your choice of contraceptives from your local pharmacy or health store. However, for methods such as sterilization, you have to be referred to a clinician.







There is no ban on birth control in Hinduism. Some Hindu scriptures include advice on what a couple should do to promote conception, but not how to avoid it. However, most Hindus accept that there is a duty to have a family after marriage and so are unlikely to use contraception to avoid having children altogether. Because India has such a large population, much of the discussion about birth control has focussed on the environmental issue of overpopulation rather than more personal ethics, and birth control is not a major ethical issue [1]. The Dharma (doctrine of the religious and moral codes of Hindus) emphasizes the need to act for the sake of the good of the world. Some Hindus, therefore, believe that producing more children than the environment can support goes against this Hindu code. Although fertility is important, conceiving more children than can be supported is treated as violating the Ahimsa (non-violent rule of conduct) [2].


The Qur’an does not make any explicit statements about the morality of contraception, but contains statements encouraging procreation. The prophet Muhammad is also reported to have said “marry and procreate”. Coitus interruptus, a primitive form of birth control in which a man, during intercourse, withdraws his penis from a woman’s vagina prior to orgasm in an effort to avoid insemination, was a known practice at the time of Muhammad, and his companions engaged in it. Muhammad knew about this, but did not prohibit it. Umar and Ali, the second and fourth of the Rashidun caliphs, respectively, defended the practice. Muslim scholars have extended the example of coitus interruptus, by analogy, to declaring permissible other forms of contraception, subject to three conditions: 1. as offspring are the right of both the husband and the wife, the birth control method should be used with both parties’ consent ,2. the method should not cause permanent sterility, 3. the method should not otherwise harm the body.

Among Christian denominations today there are a large variety of positions towards contraception. The Roman Catholic Church has disallowed artificial contraception for as far back as one can historically trace. Such acts are considered intrinsically disordered because of the belief that all licit sexual acts must be both unitive (express love), and procreative (open to procreation). The only form of birth control permitted is abstinence [3]. Modern scientific methods of “periodic abstinence” such as natural family planning (NFP) were counted as a form of abstinence by Pope Paul VI in his 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae [4]. Contraception was also officially disallowed by non-Catholic Christians until 1930 when the Anglican Communion changed its policy. Soon after, most Protestant groups came to accept the use of modern contraceptives as a matter of Biblically allowable freedom of conscience [5].
According to the American Enterprise Institute, 78% of Catholics say they believe the Church should allow Catholics to use birth control, though other polls reflect different numbers [6].


Sikhs have no objection to birth control. [7]


  4. Humanae Vitae: Encyclical of Pope Paul VI on the Regulation of Birth, July 25, 1968″. The Vatican. Retrieved 2006-10-01.
  5. Campbell, Flann (Nov 1960). “Birth Control and the Christian Churches”. Population Studies (Population Investigation Committee) 14 (2): 131–147. doi:10.2307/2172010. JSTOR 2172010
  6. AEI – Short Publications – In Today’s Environment, Contraception Could Become a Big Issue




Abortion is legal in India. You do not need anyone’s permission to get an abortion.

If possible, take a trusted and caring friend or family member with you for support. They can make sure you are OK and make sure that you are treated well by the medical staff and doctors at the clinic.

Remember, you deserve to be treated with kindness and respect. You are not wrong for wanting an abortion. You are not a bad person. You have every right to make this decision by yourself, for yourself. You do not have to feel guilty. This is your decision, and yours alone.

Abortion in India is legal only up to twenty weeks of pregnancy under specific conditions and situations, which are broadly defined as:

  • the continuance of the pregnancy would involve a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or of grave injury of physical or mental health,
  • If the pregnancy is caused due to rape, or
  • there is a substantial risk that if the child were born, it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.

Important notes:

  1. Abortion is conducted only in a government hospital or  a government recognised hospital, by a qualified doctor.
  2. Abortion by nurses or someone not medically trained is illegal
  3. Abortion can be done before completion of 12 weeks of pregnancy.
  4. If the pregnancy is more than 12 weeks, it can be terminated only on advice of two qualified and registered medical practitioners.
  5. No one, including her husband and family, can force a woman to undergo a sex determination test of an unborn child.
  6. No one can conduct  a medical test or experiment on a woman in a lab, hospital or clinic without full consent.
  7. To convey the sex of an unborn child by way of words, actions,etc. Is an offence.
  8. Abortion is discrimination against girls.
  9. This is immoral and illegal medical practice.
  10. Pre delivery and after conception, sex determination of an unborn child is an offence.
  11. This is illegal by way of ultrasound, also subject to legal conditions.
  12. Abortion is legal only under certain circumstances.

Abortion means that a pregnancy is ended by removing the foetus or embryo. This takes place before the baby is viable. An abortion can happen spontaneously, then it’s usually called a miscarriage, or it can be done on purpose. An abortion can either be done with the help of medication, or with surgery.


Medical Abortion (up to 9 weeks of pregnancy)

With a medical abortion you take two different medicines 36-48 hours apart. First you take a pill that stops the pregnancy – it blocks the hormone that keeps you pregnant. You will be able to go home and continue your normal everyday activities. As you wait for the second part of the treatment, some women have little bleeding and mild cramps but most won’t. You should consult the doctor if you have heavy bleeding after taking the first pill. Then anywhere between one day to a couple of days later, you take another drug – it could be a pill you swallow or one you put inside your vagina. This part of the process is painful as your womb lining breaks along with the embryo through bleeding from your vagine: you must take painkillers.


Surgical Abortion

For a surgical abortion you have an operation. There are two main types of operations, depending on how long you’ve been pregnant. For both operations, you have an anaesthetic. This could be a general anaesthetic, which means you’re asleep during the operation. But you can also just have a local anaesthetic. You then have an injection in your cervix, the neck of the womb, inside your vagina right at the top. This makes your cervix numb, and you stay awake during the operation.

Between about eight weeks and fifteen weeks into a pregnancy, the kind of abortion performed is called suction aspiration. The doctor gradually opens up your cervix a little until it’s wide enough for a thin, flexible tube to fit through. Then everything inside your womb is sucked out through the tube.

After about fifteen weeks into a pregnancy, the kind of abortion performed is called Dilation & Curettage (D&C) or Dilation and Evacuation (D&E). Your cervix is opened wider than for a suction aspiration abortion, so the doctor can use instruments to remove the contents of your womb. After a surgical abortion you can feel sick and faint, and have painful stomach cramps.

WARNING: Illegal abortion clinics that are not certified and proper abortion clinics are only to be used as a last resort option. If you go to an illegal clinic, you may run the very serious risk of infection, complications, and even death.



Looking for places to get abortion in India?



When is abortion illegal?

Section 312,IPC

Causing miscarriage: Whoever voluntarily causes a woman with child to miscarry and if the miscarriage is not done to save the woman’s life then the person will be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend up to three years, or with a fine or with both, and  if the woman be quick with the child then shall be punished with imprisonment of  either description for a term which may extend up to seven years, and shall also be liable to a fine.

Section 313,IPC

Causing miscarriage without a woman’s consent:  Whoever commits this offence defined in the last preceding section without the consent of the woman, whether the woman is quick with child or not shall be punished with imprisonment for life or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend up to ten years and shall be liable to a fine.


The difference between Section 312 and 313

When the consent of the woman is not taken, the offence comes under Section 313. When the consent is taken then Section 312 applies. Under 313, the person procuring the abortion is alone punished but under 312, such person as well as the woman who causes herself to miscarry are both punished. Section 313 would be attracted only if  it is established that the pregnancy has been terminated without the consent of the prosecutrix. A person convicted under this section  may be sentenced to imprisonment for life or for ten years and also has to pay the fine.

Section 314 IPC

Death caused by act done with intent to cause miscarriage: Whoever with the intent to cause miscarriage of a woman with a child, does any act which causes the death of such woman, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term  which may extend up to ten years and shall also be liable to pay the fine and if  the act is done without  the consent of the woman, shall be punished either with imprisonment of life or with the above mentioned punishment.

It is not essential to this offence that the offender should know that the act is likely to cause death.



Section 316 IPC
Causing death of quick unborn child  by act amounting to  culpable homicide: Whoever  does any act  under such circumstances, that if he thereby  caused death, he would be guilty of culpable homicide, and such act will be punished with imprisonment of either description  for a term  which may extend up to  ten years and shall also be liable to pay the fine.

Section 318 IPC

Concealment of birth by secret disposal of dead body: Whoever, by secretly burying or otherwise disposing the dead body  of the child whether the child died before or after or during its birth,intentionally conceals or endeavours to conceal the birth of such child  shall be punished  with imprisonment of  either description  for a term  which may extend up to two years or with a fine or with both.

This section is intended to prevent infanticide. It is directed against concealment of birth of a child by secretly disposing of its body.

This section deals with the secret burial of a child. It applies  only where one intentionally conceals the birth of a child from the world.





*STD” is the most commonly used term for the collection of medical infections that are transmitted through sexual contact. But that’s just the thing. People who become infected, don’t always experience any symptoms or have their infection develop into a disease. That’s where the more modern term “STI” comes from.” Source.

What is a STD?

A sexually transmitted disease is any illness that is transmitted from a carrier of the disease  (i.e. the person hosting the organism causing the disease) to another person through sexual contact. STDs are caused by microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, fungi or tiny parasites that are present in one or several body fluids (saliva, blood, vaginal fluid, ejaculate) or on the surface of one’s genitals.


For more information visit:

What is the difference between an STD and and STI?
You’ve got a sexually transmitted infection (STI) when you’ve been infected by a bacteria, virus or parasite through having unprotected sex. If the infection goes on to cause symptoms, such as unusual discharge from your penis or vagina, you’ve got a sexually transmitted disease (STD).

Generally speaking, the only difference between an STI and an STD is whether you’ve got symptoms. Either way, you still have an infection that you can pass on to someone else.

Should I be ashamed of having contracted an STD or STI?
No. Contracting an STD is in its biological nature no different than making someone sick from other infectious diseases such as the flu. Sexually transmitted infections affect more than 1 million people every day.. Because many STDs do not cause immediate or obvious symptoms they can be passed easily through unprotected sex without either partner’s knowledge or intention. Any shame or guilt associated with the contraction of an STD stems from the stigma of having sexual intercourse, especially if it occurs outside marriage, between persons of the same sex, with sex workers or with several sex partners. The notion of STDs are seen as a ‘punishment’ for breaking cultural or religious norms is harmful and groundless. Many STDs (including HIV) can also be transmitted by blood-to-blood contact that has no link to sexual intercourse. The notion that STD carriers are immoral decreases motivation to test for STDs which in turn increases the chance of infecting non-carriers.

When should I test for STDs?

After any unprotected sexual intercourse, unless you and your partner have been recently tested negative for STDs, and especially after unprotected sex with a new partner or in the case of forced sexual intercourse (rape). If you and your partner recently tested negative but you still think you might be experiencing some symptoms, get tested. Even if your partner is someone you trust and says they have no knowledge of having an STD, it is always best to get checked out as they may not have been aware of contracting it.
Better be safe than sorry!

How do you get HIV/AIDS?

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a disease that is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). This virus is present in the different body fluids, but not saliva, of an infected person. To be infected with HIV, the virus has to cross from the body fluid of the infected person into the circulation of the non-infected person’s bloodstream. This can happen in a variety of situations:

  • Medical procedures involving contaminated blood or surgical equipment
  • Sharing drug paraphernalia such as needles
  • Sexual intercourse (vaginal and anal intercourse, oral sex)
  • From mother to child during pregnancy or childbirth

How/where do I get tested for STDs including HIV/AIDS?

People are typically tested for STDs with a blood test to see if the microorganism is present or if there are antibodies against it. Some common STDs can also be tested for using a urine sample or a swab. This requires the patient to visit their physician or a clinic/health centre to draw blood that is sent for laboratory analysis.

Depending on your country of residence/health care provider, testing for STDs can be partly or fully covered by health insurance or as part of a public effort to fight the spread of the disease.



How can you prevent STDs including HIV/AIDS?

  • Not engaging in sexual activity.
  • Having protected sex using a condom, including putting a fresh condom onto a sex toy if you are using one

Do all STDs have symptoms?
No! In fact, the term sexually transmitted disease can be a bit misleading, since an infection that does not cause specific symptoms is medically not a disease*. STDs are therefore sometimes called sexually transmitted infections (STI). Some STIs cause minor symptoms after the initial infection, e.g. after the infection with HIV people can experience cold-like symptoms that are not related to the genital area. Many STDs do not cause any symptoms for a long time but may cause long-term infection with an outburst of symptoms (Herpes) or with an increased risk of cancer (high-risk HPV).

STDs can also have long term effects even if they don’t have symptoms, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea causing infertility, in both males and females.

What do I do if I think I have an STD?
Talk to your doctor. Most STDs can be treated successfully, but it is important to get any symptoms checked as soon as possible. Your doctor can examine you and perform tests to determine if you have an STD. Treatment can cure many STDs and lessen the symptoms of STDs. Also this will make it less likely that you will spread the disease and help you to get healthy and stay healthy.

I tested HIV positive – what next?
It is important to remember that HIV is a manageable disease that can be treated with HIV medicines. HIV medicines can’t cure HIV, but they help people with HIV live longer, healthier lives.
Firstly, you should contact your health care provider or doctor, even if you don’t feel sick.
Your doctor will then decide when to start treatment and what HIV medicines to take, depending on your HIV baseline evaluation.
HIV baseline evaluation includes a review of the person’s health and medical history, a physical exam and lab tests. This helps your doctor determine how far a person’s HIV infection has progressed, evaluate the person’s readiness to start lifelong treatment with HIV medicines and collect information to decide when to start HIV medicines and what medicines to start. Medicines can prevent the progression of HIV to AIDS (AIDS is the final stage of HIV infection).






Genital hygiene is extremely important in order to avoid infections. Urinary tract infections are more common among women than among men due to the shorter urethra in women. Women can also contract vaginal infections. Although genital infections are not always avoidable, maintaining good genital hygiene can reduce your risk of contracting a genital infection.

The ‘do’ list:


  • Clean your genital area thoroughly but gently


The vagina is a self-cleansing organ. Washing the vagina with water during a shower or bath is enough to ensure that you are clean.. If you feel the need to use soaps, use  very gentle products, nothing harsh or with too much perfume. Only clean the outside, and don’t scrub the inside of the vagina with soap. This can cause infections and irritation.

The same goes for men. Use lots of water and be very thorough. You can use a very gentle soap, but soap isn’t necessary and may even irritate the delicate area. There are lots of little skin folds and wrinkles around the penis – make sure to gently get to all of them.

If  not circumcised, pull back the foreskin to wash the head of your penis and get rid of any smegma – the white stuff that collects under the foreskin. Just like the inside of the vagina, the head of the penis is a bit like the inside of  mouth, and it doesn’t really need soap. If  using soap, apply it gently.

For both men and women, clean the anus last. The same rules apply: lots of water, a bit of gentle soap and no excessive scrubbing. Finally,  rinse  the leftover soap around the genital area with lots of water, and then gently dry the genital area.


  • Avoid dampness around the genital area


Dampness can cause skin irritation, it is therefore important to keep the genital area dry. For example, after rigorous exercise it is important to change into dry, clean underwear to avoid dampness occurring from sweat.


  • Maintain good toilet etiquette


Remember to always wash or wipe from front to back after finishing on the toilet. Also, avoid using the same piece of toilet paper more than once. This is to avoid getting harmful bacteria from the anus near the vagina and urinary tract.


  • Notice changes


Use the time you’re   cleaning your genital area as an opportunity to look for and notice any changes. Unusual smells or discharge, pimples and bumps or painful areas could all be signs that something is  wrong. Some of these signs can indicate a  STD.

“True” pimples may be due to a blocked sebaceous gland or infection around the root of hair follicle. Because these are or may lead to a painful skin infection, it helps to keep an eye on them and manage them as you would another other potential infection of the skin. However, the genital areas also often have bumpy yellowish spots on the skin called “Fordyce’s spots”. These are perfectly normal, painless and itching-free granules that are simply an anatomical variation.

If you notice any changes, keep an eye on them for a day or two, and if they don’t improve or get worse, see a doctor to make sure that everything is still healthy around your genitals.

The ‘don’t’ list


  • Be afraid of smells


Every vagina and every penis has a certain smell. That’s natural and normal. There are sweat glands around your genitals that cause that smell. They are similar to the ones found in your armpits.

There’s nothing wrong with a bit of a smell, and you certainly shouldn’t try to cover it with deodorants or excessive cleaning. Cleaning once a day is enough. And an extra wash before sex – especially oral!

But instead of using over-perfumed genital wipes or smelly soaps, embrace your natural clean scent. It contains pheromones, which are chemical messengers in part responsible for the attraction between men and women – this smells so much sexier than fake scents!

But, if you start smelling unpleasantly different, go see a doctor. It could be a sign of infection.


  • Douche or bleach


Ladies, don’t douche. Douching is a method of washing your vagina out, usually with a mixture of water and vinegar. Douches that are sold in drugstores and supermarkets contain antiseptics and fragrances that comes in a bottle or bag and is sprayed through a tube upward into the vagina. Read more about douching here.

Douching can seriously disturbed your vaginal balance and cause itching, irritation and infections. And once you have an infection, more douching can push the bacteria that’s causing it into and up your vagina. That can lead to problems with your uterus, ovaries or fallopian tubes.

And stay away from creams and lotions that promise to make your genital or anal area whiter. They, too, can cause irritations and infections.


  • Forget the rest of your body


There is more to hygiene than just genital hygiene. You won’t do yourself or your partner or anybody else any favours if your genitals are clean and well-taken care of but your breath and armpits haven’t had any attention for weeks.

So make sure you brush your teeth twice a day, shower or bath regularly and use deodorant if you sweat a lot or tend to smell underneath your arms. Clean dirt from underneath your nails. Some people like to remove or trim their body hair – whether you like this or not is up to you.




A gang rape on 23 year old-female medical student in India’s Uttar Pradesh State triggered what was then called the “Nirbhaya” (The Fearless One) effect. As a result, a Justice Verma committee established in 2013 scrutinized national laws regarding protection of women and came up with a bill of rights for women. The bill prohibits all forms of violence, exploitation, cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and treatment targeting women. It also entitles a woman to have the right to express and experience complete sexual autonomy, including with respect to her relationships and choice of partners.

It says, “Every woman shall have the same rights in case of separation, divorce and annulment of marriage and shall have the freedom to marry any person of her choice and be regarded as an equal partner in the marriage.” The bill also says, “Every woman should have access to public transport facilities without fear of the risk of violation of her dignity in any form by means of teasing, molestation, stalking etc.”

Declaration on Elimination of Violence against Women 1993 (“DEVW”), article 1 describes violence against women  as “…..physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family, including battering, sexual abuse of female children in the household, dowry related violence, marital rape, female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women, non-spousal violence and violence related to exploitation….”

Remember, reporting sexual assault to police or the relevant institution can be dangerous and unnerving. You don’t have to report it unless you feel like it is appropriate for you. Many survivors choose not to but if it is safe for you to do so – here are a few reasons why it might be good.

1) You might need their help to limit the predator’s access to you.

2) If you eventually pursue a case, this will be a very important step in your favor.

3) Silence often enables predators to repeat the offense; by breaking the silence, you put the predator on the defensive and they may reconsider before targeting you or another person again.

Sexual assault

According to the Sexual-harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (n) “sexual harassment” includes any one or more of the following unwelcome acts or behaviour (whether directly or by implication) namely:- {i) physical contact and advances; or (il) a demand or request for sexual favours; or (iii) making sexually coloured remarks; or (iv) showing pornography; or (v) any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature;

The key offenses under the IPC that could be triggered in a case of sexual harassment and pertinent sections they fall under.

Section # Offence Punishment
354 Outraging the modesty of a woman:

Assault or use of criminal force to any woman, intending to outrage or knowing it to be likely that modesty would be outraged.

Simple/ Rigorous Imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than one year but which may extend to five years; and fine
354-A Sexual harassment by a man:

(i) Physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures; (ii) Demand or request for sexual favours; (iii) Showing pornography against the will of a woman; or (iv) making sex

Offences (i), (ii) and (iii) are punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both. Offence (iv) is punishable with simple/ rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.
354-B Assault or use of criminal force to any woman with intent to disrobe:

Assault or use of criminal force to any woman or abetment of such act with the intention of disrobing or compelling her to be naked.

Simple/Rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than three years but which may extend to seven years, and fine.
354-C Voyeurism:

Watching, or capturing the image of a woman engaging in a private act in circumstances where she would usually have the expectation of not being observed either by the perpetrator or by any other person at the behest of the perpetrator or disseminates such image.

First conviction: Simple/ Rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than one year, but which may extend to three years, and fine. Second or subsequent conviction: Simple/ Rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than three years, but which may extend to seven years, and fine.
354-D Stalking:

Following a woman and contacting, or attempting to contact such woman to foster personal interaction repeatedly despite a clear indication of disinterest by such woman; or Monitoring the use by a woman of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication.

First conviction: Simple/ Rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, and fine. Second or subsequent conviction: Simple/ Rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years, and fine.
509 Insulting the modesty of a woman:

Uttering any word, making any sound or gesture, or exhibiting any object, intending that such word or sound shall be heard, or that such gesture or object shall be seen, by a woman, with an intention to insult her modesty, or intruding upon the privacy of such woman.

Simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, and fine.


How to fill in a complaint?

You’ve probably heard people using the word FIR a lot. FIR (FIRST INFORMATION REPORT) is the complaint that a person lodges at a police station, reporting the incident that is alleged to have occurred. It is the first information that the police receive regarding the commission of a Cognizable Offence, hence First Information Report.

An FIR can only be lodged at a police station. At every police station there is a designated SHO (Station House Officer) whose job is to lodge FIRs. Usually, FIRs are lodged at the police station in whose jurisdiction (geographical area that comes under the purview of that police station) the offence has occurred.

It is preferable to lodge the FIR in the jurisdictional police station. If that is not possible, you will have to state the relevant reasons, and the police will forward the the FIR to the concerned police station for investigation.

An FIR may be given in writing or orally. Your complaint in writing is reduced to the basic facts and put into a standard format of the FIR. You are entitled to read it make changes etc and also get a copy for yourself FREE OF COST. If you orally lodge a complaint, which the police officer writes down, please read it and make sure that it is accurate.

You have the right to lodge a FIR, irrespective of the circumstances that surround the particular incident. Clothes you are wearing or being out late cannot be reasons given to you for not lodging an FIR. In the event that the officer does not lodge your FIR, you can ask the Inspector of the police station to do so. If that fails, get in touch with the Circle Inspector. Finally, the office of the Commissioner of Police can also lodge an FIR and forward it to the concerned police station. So, in the event that the SHO refuses to lodge your FIR you can work your your way up the hierarchy, and ensure that it is.


Procedure to lodge an FIR

An FIR should have the following details-

1) a detailed description of the incident- date, time, place included.

2) If you know the accused- then his name and address. If not, as close a description as possible.

3) You must also put down exactly what happened. E.g. If you were felt up- how and where.


Do I have to report the incident only to another male officer?

There are all women’s police stations that one can complain at. However it is not mandatory for all police stations to have women officers. In the case of offences like sexual harassment, voyeurism, stalking, rape & gang rape, the report must only be recorded by a woman police officer.


What is rape according to the Indian Penal Code (IPC, section 375)?

A man is said to commit “rape” who has sexual intercourse with a woman under circumstances falling under any of the six following descriptions:

  1. Against her will – means that you opposed him verbally or physically. Remember, your “no” should be enough!
  2. Without her consent – Often girls are scared of protesting and they become passive while the actual act of rape takes place.  Fear prevents them from saying no. Unless you express your consent verbally or physically, a man shouldn’t undertake anything.  
  3. With her consent, when her consent has been obtained by putting her or any person in whom she is interested in fear of death or of hurt – if he threatens you or your family
  4. With her consent, when the man knows that he is not her husband, and that her consent is given because she believes that he is another man to whom she is or believes herself to be lawfully married.
  5. With her consent, when, at the time of giving such consent, by reason of unsoundness of mind or intoxication or the administration by him personally or through another of any stupefying or unwholesome substance, she is unable to understand the nature and consequences of that to which she gives consent.
  6. With or without her consent, when she is under sixteen years of age.

Exception.— According to the above law sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape.”


  • Attempt of rape


In every crime, there is first, intention to commit, secondly, preparation to commit it, and thirdly, attempt to commit it. If the third stage, that is, attempt is successful, then the crime is complete. If the attempt fails, the crime is not complete, but law punishes the person attempting the act. Section 511 is a general 54 (2004)3 SCC 602, 76 provision makes punishable all attempts to commit sexual offences  punishable with imprisonment and not only those punishable with death.


  • What is consent?


If you want to have sex with a man you grant him your consent to undertake actions. If he has sex with you despite that you said no or expressed your disapproval he commits a crime. Equally, if you fear him, he threatens you or your family, you’re drunk, unconscious or sleeping while it happens. You’re not obliged to have sex with anyone, even if it’s your husband..

The Evidence Act by Act No. 43 of 1983 (114-A) says that if you state that someone had sex with you without your consent, the court will believe that. The above is mentioned in Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860) –  “where sexual intercourse by the accused is proved and the question is whether it was without the consent of the woman alleged to have been raped and she states in her evidence before the Court that she did not consent, the Court shall presume that she did not consent.”


  • Eve teasing – how to file a complaint. In Pakistan/India this is called an “FIR”


Eve-teasing violates your human-rights guaranteed under articles 14,15 of the Indian Penal Code.

When you feel you’re being harassed, assess your risks by assessing the environment around you. Don’t be afraid of reporting the harassment. It is very important to stand up to your abuser but you need to make sure you’re safe. If there are people on the streets they will probably back you up. If it’s late and you’re walking alone walk as fast as you can towards group of people, lamps, etc. Don’t ignore it the harasser, be aware where he is.

You can experience many types of eve-teasing, of which are:

  1. Verbal eve-teasing
  2. Physical eve-teasing
  3. Psychological harassment
  4. Sexual harassment

It is not necessary that you should name the person you are accusing. It is very common to not know who the person is. If possible try and get a name or a good description. An FIR can be lodged against anyone, including public servants.

How long does the whole procedure take after filing in FIR? What am I getting involved in by lodging an FIR or reporting the ‘eve teaser’?

Lodging of an FIR does not take very long, maybe a few hours, at the most. By lodging one, you are putting the criminal justice mechanism into motion. That is, you are asking the police to begin investigating the incident that you have reported. It is then the job of the police to investigate, arrest, take down statements etc. You may be called by the police to identify the person(s) they have arrested. The police then have to file what is called a charge sheet and then the case goes to trial before a judge, where you will be the primary witness, along with others, if there are any. It is difficult to say exactly how long this whole process takes. But one can safely say that it will be at least a few months- 4 or more, for the case to actually go to trial before a judge.

“I think I was eve teased. This guy just looked at me in a way that made me feel sick. How can I take any action against it? I don’t even know who he is. What constitutes as sexual harassment in the streets? What according to the law can be seen as ‘eve teasing’ or street sexual harassment? Is it looking, staring, and groping, stalking? What can police do to the perpetrator/ eve teaser? How is he punishable?”

Section 354 of the IPC- requires that there be assault or criminal force used intending to outrage the modesty of a woman or knowing that it will outrage her modesty. A person found guilty can be imprisoned for a maximum period of 2 years, or with a fine, or both. So, under this section a ‘look’ may not be enough to constitute an offence. For more details look at Section 96 of the Karnataka Police Act.

Section 509 of the IPC is broader in its purview. It includes words, gestures, sounds or exhibition of objects with a view to insult the modesty of a woman. It also includes the words “intrudes upon the privacy of a woman”. The offence is punishable with a maximum imprisonment for one year, or a fine, or both.

In the case of both these provisions, it is difficult to say what exactly constitutes an offence. Courts have held that whistling, passing comments about a woman’s body, singing songs etc, come under S.509. In any case, a ‘look’ that makes you uncomfortable may be very difficult to establish as an act that outrages your modesty.

Groping and stalking are definitely acts that come under the purview of both sections.

What is important is that neither section uses the explicit words eve teasing or sexual harassment. Although the latter is what the sections are trying to address. The focus is on the modesty of the woman.

Which police person can I complain to? Can I complain to the traffic police?

If you intend to initiate a criminal case you must lodge an FIR at the police station. The traffic police can assist you in reaching the police station or if they have witnessed the incident can be made witness. Sometimes it may be enough to create a scene by getting the traffic police involved and causing embarrassment to the man.

If I report him, how do I protect myself after that?

It is unlikely that you will need any kind of protection. Once he is arrested, he will have to get bail before he gets out of jail. You can ask the police for protection, if there are threats etc. that have been made. Bail may even be canceled if there are threats etc being made to the complainant.

Source/case study:

She did it!

“Today he had the audacity to say these things to me, tomorrow he will have the audacity to move one step ahead and do it.”

What is Cyber stalking?

Cyber stalking is when a person is followed and pursued online. Their privacy is invaded, their every move watched. It falls under section 345D of Indian Penal Code.

Two different kinds of cyber stalking situations can occur:

  1. Online  harassment & cyber stalking that occurs and continues on the internet.
  2. Online harassment and stalking that begins to be carried on offline too. This is when a stalker may attempt to trace a telephone number or a street address. Always be careful what details you give out over the web and to whom.

How to Report Cyber-Stalking in India

  1. One must register a written complaint to her immediate cyber-cell in the city. In case of non-availability of cyber-cells in the city, one can file a F.I.R. in the local police station.
  2. In case of non-acceptance of your complaint, one can always refer your complaint to the commissioner or judicial magistrate of the city.
  3. Legal Assistance: If a woman approaches to the police station with an allegation of cyber-stalking she is entitled to legal counsel to help her file a case.
  4. Privacy: The victim’s statement would be taken down in private. Often the cyber police station has women police officers/constables who can help the complainant to file a complaint.

Read more: How to file a complaint for cyber-stalking in India? – iPleaders


Sexual Harassment at workplace (

Who is an aggrieved woman?

An ‘aggrieved woman’ in relation to a workplace, is a woman of any age, whether employed or not, who alleges to have been subjected to any act of sexual harassment.(Section 2a of the  the Prevention of Workplace Sexual Harassment Act). Further, the aforementioned Act applies to both the organized and unorganized sectors in India. The statute, inter alia, applies to government bodies, private and public sector organisations, non-governmental organisations, organisations carrying out commercial, vocational, educational, entertainment, industrial, financial activities, hospitals and nursing homes, educational institutes, sports institutions and stadiums used for training individuals and a dwelling place or a house.

What is sexual harassment at workplace?

As per the statute, ‘sexual harassment’ includes unwelcome sexually tinted behaviour, whether directly or by implication, such as

(i) physical contact and advances,

(ii) demand or request for sexual favours,

(iii) making sexually coloured remarks,

(iv) showing pornography, or

(v) any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature.

Presence or occurrence of circumstances of implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment in employment; threat of detrimental treatment in employment; threat about present or future employment; interference with work or creating an intimidating or offensive or hostile work environment; or humiliating treatment likely to affect the lady employee’s health or safety could also amount to sexual harassment.


What exactly do the above terms involve?

  1. Unwanted sexual advances or propositions
  2. Offering employment benefits in exchange for sexual favours
  3. Leering
  4. Making sexual gestures
  5. Displaying sexually suggestive objects or pictures, cartoons, calendars or posters
  6. Making or using derogatory comments, comments about a person’s body or dress, slurs, epithets or sexually suggestive jokes
  7. vii.Written communications of a sexual nature distributed in hard copy or via a computer network, suggestive or obscene letters, notes or invitations
  8. viii. Physical conduct such as unwanted touching, assault, impeding or blocking movements
  9. Making or threatening retaliation after a negative response to sexual advances or for reporting or threatening to report sexual harassment
  10. Eve-teasing
  11. Sexually tinted remarks, whistling, staring, sexually slanted and obscene jokes, jokes causing or likely to cause awkwardness or embarrassment
  12. xii. Subtle innuendoes or open taunting regarding perfection, imperfection or characteristics of physical appearance of a person’s body or shape
  13. xiii.Gender based insults and/or sexist remarks
  14. xiv. Displaying pornographic or other sexually offensive or derogatory material
  15. Forcible invitations for dates
  16. Forcible physical touch or physical assault or molestation
  17. Suggesting or implying that failure to accept a request for a date or sexual favours would adversely affect the individual in respect to performance evaluation or promotion
  18. Explicitly or implicitly suggesting sexual favours in return for hiring, compensation, promotion, retention decision, relocation, or allocation of job/responsibility/work
  19. Any act or conduct by a person in authority and belonging to one sex which denies or would deny equal opportunity in pursuit of career development or otherwise making the environment at the workplace hostile or intimidating to a person belonging to the other sex, only on the ground of such individual providing or refusing sexual favours.
  20. Physical confinement against one’s will and any other act likely to violate one’s privacy.

Is the employer responsible if an employee is sexually harassed at a company sponsored event outside of working hours?

The Prevention of Workplace Sexual Harassment Act introduces the concept of ‘extended workplace’ covering under its ambit any place visited by the employee arising out of or during the course of employment including transportation provided by the employer for undertaking such journey. Hence any form of sexual harassment at a company sponsored event would also be within the scope of the statute.

Who should I report to if I am sexually harassed at work?

Law requires that every organization employing 10 or more employees should set up and “internal complaints committee” (ICC) to hear and redress cases of sexual harassment at workplace.The above committee should be led by a woman employed at a senior level at the respective workplace. Additionally, it should comprise at least 2 more employees and an external member who is affiliated to any NGO or association committed to the cause of women.

If there is no ICC in your organization or if the direct employer is a culprit, you can refer to Local Complaints Committee established at the district level.

The statute ensures confidentiality of submitted complaint and personal details of the complainant. An aggrieved woman who intends to file a complaint is required to submit six copies of the written complaint, along with supporting documents and names and addresses of the witnesses to the ICC or LCC, within 3 months from the date of the incident and in case of a series of incidents, within a period of 3 months from the date of the last incident. The ICC/ LCC can extend the timeline for filing the complaint, for reasons to be recorded in writing, by a period of 3 months.

Upon receipt of the complaint, 1 copy of the complaint is to be sent to the respondent within 7 days. Upon receipt of the copy of complaint, the respondent is required to reply to the complaint along with a list of supporting documents, and names and addresses of witnesses within 10 working days. The Inquiry report has to be issued within 10 days from the date of completion of inquiry. The employer is required to act on the recommendations of the ICC/LCC within 60 days of receipt of the Inquiry report. Appeal against the decision of the committee is allowed within 90 days from the date of recommendations. The statute further clarifies that the mere inability to substantiate a complaint or provide adequate proof need not mean that the complaint is false or malicious.

What do the “supporting documents” mean?

Supporting documents are all the evidence who prove that your complaint is legit. ICC/LCC can look at emails, chat transcripts, CCTV footage, SMS messages, access logs and computer records, since some of these may give valuable insights in making a crucial decision

Documenting Harassment

Documenting the harassment is important for use as evidence in a case or complaint. You should: Photograph or keep copies of any offensive material at the workplace. Keep a journal with detailed information on instances of sexual harassment. Note the dates, conversation, frequency of offensive encounters, etc. Obtain copies of your work records (including performance evaluations) and keep these copies at home

Other documents that you should have: A company policy and procedure manual is very important to have. The company’s documented policies on sexual harassment, discrimination, performance appraisals, termination, affirmative action plans can be very important to show their stated policies versus their actions. Company newspapers, annual reports, pictures of its top executives, posters, company credo, company surveys are important to show the environment and its hostility towards women.

Take all letters of commendation, awards, thanks you’s and anything at all that will corroborate your positive job performance. Pay special attention to documents that your superiors have provided lauding you and your work. If possible, ask your clients, staff, and peers for letters of commendation.

Every document that you use during trial must be authenticated by a witness. Keep this in mind during your depositions when the defence asks you where you obtained a document. If you are not clear about where you got the document, and who can authenticate it, you will not be able to use it during your trial.

– See more at:

The law also makes provisions for friends, relatives, co-workers, psychologist, psychiatrists, etc. to file the complaint in situations where the aggrieved employee is unable to make the complaint on account of physical incapacity, mental incapacity or death. An aggrieved woman is allowed to request for conciliation in order to settle the matter although monetary settlement should not be made as a basis of conciliation.

What happens in the meantime?

The ICC/LCC is also empowered to, at the request of the complainant, recommend to the employer interim measures such as:

  1. transfer of the aggrieved woman or the respondent to any other workplace
  2. granting leave to the aggrieved woman up to a period of 3 months in addition to her regular statutory/ contractual leave entitlement
  3. restrain the respondent from reporting on the work performance of the aggrieved woman or writing her confidential report, which duties may be transferred to other employees.


What will be the culprit’s punishment?

The statute prescribes the following punishments that may be imposed by an employer on an employee for indulging in an act of sexual harassment:

  1. punishment prescribed under the service rules of the organization;
  2. if the organization does not have service rules, disciplinary action including written apology, warning, reprimand, censure, withholding of promotion, withholding of pay rise or increments, terminating the respondent from service, undergoing a counselling session, or carrying out community service; and Incident of sexual harassment at workplace Internal Complaints Committee / Local Complaints Committee Report of inquiry Appeal to Court / Tribunal No action by employer Action for misconduct Conciliation Punishment for malicious or false complaint/evidence
  3. deduction of compensation payable to the aggrieved woman from the wages of the respondent.

The statute also envisages payment of compensation to the aggrieved woman. The compensation payable shall be determined based on:

  1. the mental trauma, pain, suffering and emotional distress caused to the aggrieved employee;
  2. the loss in career opportunity due to the incident of sexual harassment;
  3. medical expenses incurred by the victim for physical/ psychiatric treatment
  4. the income and status of the alleged perpetrator; and v. feasibility of such payment in lump sum or in instalments.

In the event that the respondent fails to pay the aforesaid sum, ICC may forward the order for recovery of the sum as an arrear of land revenue to the concerned District Officer.


What if the employer ignores the case of sexual harassment?

If an employer fails to constitute an ICC or does not comply with the requirements prescribed under the Prevention of Workplace Sexual Harassment Act, a monetary penalty of up to INR 50,000 (approx. US$ 900) may be imposed. A repetition of the same offence could result in the punishment being doubled and / or de-registration of the entity or revocation of any statutory business licenses.


What Steps Can Employees Take To Prevent Sexual Harassment?

Most women themselves fail to recognise sexual harassment and treat it as trivial and routine. Such has been the internal coping mechanism. Ignoring offensive behaviour or denying its existence are the most common ways women deal with sexual harassment.

In Back Off! How To Confront and Stop Sexual Harassment and Harassers, Martha Langelan recommends taking these steps:.

Dealing with the Harasser upfront:

  • Do the unexpected: Name the behaviour. Whatever he’s just done, say it, and be specific.
  • Hold the harasser accountable for his actions. Don’t make excuses for him; don’t pretend it didn’t really happen. Take charge of the encounter and let people know what he did. Privacy protects harassers, but visibility undermines them.
  • Make honest, direct statements. Speak the truth (no threats, no insults, no obscenities, no appeasing verbal fluff and padding). Be serious, straightforward, and blunt.
  • Demand that the harassment stop.
  • Make it clear that all women have the right to be free from sexual harassment. Objecting to harassment is a matter of principle.
  • Stick to your own agenda. Don’t respond to the harasser’s excuses or diversionary tactics.
  • His behaviour is the issue. Say what you have to say, and repeat it if he persists.
  • Reinforce your statements with strong, self-respecting body language: eye contact, head up, shoulders back, a strong, serious stance. Don’t smile. Timid, submissive body language will undermine your message.
  • Respond at the appropriate level. Use a combined verbal and physical response to physical harassment.
  • End the interaction on your own terms, with a strong closing statement: ‘You heard me. Stop harassing women’.

Other steps employees can take:

Speaking out: Speaking about sexual harassment is an effective tool in combating it. While speaking about it, the problem becomes visible, it is acknowledged that it exists, and this in turn leads one to take effective measures against it. Speaking about sexual harassment also gives an opportunity to clarify by this about it. It helps in changing attitudes of people towards this issue. Speaking about it creates an enabling environment for the victim to speak out. It mobilises public opinion against it. It makes it difficult for a potential harasser to commit the crime. It equips people with information as to what is to be done in such a case.

Speak up at the time: Be sure to say “NO” clearly, firmly and without smiling as that is the best way to let the harasser know that his behaviour is offensive. Objecting to the behaviour when it occurs helps if you decide to file charges later.

Keep records: Keep track of what happens in a journal or diary and keep any letters or notes or other documents you receive. Write down the dates, times, places, and an account of what happened. Write down the names of any witnesses. Write a letter. People have successfully stopped sexual harassment by writing a letter detailing the behaviour that is offensive and asking the person who is harassing them to stop the behaviour. The letter should be polite, unemotional, and detailed. Such a letter seems to be more powerful than a verbal request. The recipient of the letter seldom writes back; the person usually just stops the behaviour.

Set your own boundaries: Say “NO” emphatically and clearly when you are asked to go places, do things, respond to questions, or engage in situations that make you uncomfortable. Do not worry about offending the other person or hurting his or her ego. Take care of yourself first.

Be aware of situations and people who may harm you: Don’t ignore other’s warnings about particular people or social settings. Acknowledge their concern for you and for themselves.

Trust your own instincts about possible danger: In an uncomfortable situation, be direct and honest, and remove yourself from the situation immediately. Regardless of your previous behaviour or signals you may have given earlier, you have the absolute right to halt any sexual exchange at any time. Accept this right and act on it.

Tell someone: Being quiet or stoic about sexual harassment lets it continue. Talk to other co-workers; you may not be the only one harassed by this person. Do not blame yourself and do not delay.

Create a Witness to the behaviour: Inform a trusted colleague and try to insure that s/he is an eye or ear witness to a situation where you are being sexually harassed. This will be useful later if you chose to file a formal complaint. Send a copy of sexual harassment policy / rules to the harasser. If your workplace already has an anti sexual harassment policy or the conduct rules of your institution prohibit sexual harassment, send a copy of the institution policy/conduct rules to the harasser with the appropriate sections underlined.

Talk to a union: If you are a member of a labour union, talk to your union representative.

Get a medical check-up: If you have been raped or physically assaulted, go for a medical check-up. Obtain a medical report. This is important, should you decide to pursue a legal case.

Report sexual harassment to the appropriate person in the organization: Explore the different avenues available to you and file a formal complaint if necessary. If your organisation does not have a policy, ensure that your employer formulates an anti-sexual harassment policy and carries out all the connected tasks.

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Revenge porn

Online Revenge Porn means that when there are relationship break ups, then either party puts up nude pictures of the other or videos of their intimate moments on social networking media, blogs and other websites.

Although there is no specific provision that speaks of revenge porn offences, the 2008 amendment to the Information Technology Act, 2000 has inserted three important sections that can prove to be extremely useful in taking action against the perpetrator of any kind of online revenge porn. For more information please refer to S.66E AND 67B of the aforementioned act.

There is a high probability of revenge porn becoming an act of voyeurism. If the victim of revenge porn is under 18 years, then the crime is treated as child pornography i.e. publishing or transmitting in electronic form of material depicting children in obscene, indecent or sexually explicit manner. The crime is punishable under Section 67B of the IT Act with a punishment of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to Rs 10 lakh.


Female Genital Mutilation


Female Genital Mutilation is practiced by the Dwoodi Bohra in India – a Shia Muslim sect originating from Yemen, which settled in India in the 16th century.  The community is mostly located in Maharashtra and Gujarat. Those residing outside India are primarily found in Pakistan and Africa. As a sect, the Bohras consider themselves a sub-sect of the Ismaili Shia Muslims and are estimated to number two million the world over.

This may be or not be the case, for India Ghadially’s interviews showed that the procedure was anything but symbolic. The mutilation was usually performed with a razor, and the perpetrators often used abeer or kapurkanchi powder mixed with silk thread ashes to put over the clitoris after cutting takes place for its cooling effect and for its adhesive value. She lists many health complaints due to the practice based on a conversation with a Bohra doctor, such as severe bleeding, tetanus, infections and some cases of frigidity.