Sex addiction is on the rise in India

Shobha John, TNN Jan 26, 2013, 04.51AM IST

BANGALORE: Nirmal, 38, is a smooth-talking executive in a Delhi-based software firm. He is married, has two kids and leads a normal life. Except that by now he’s had sex with 922 partners, both male and female.

“It started when I was in Class IX,” he says. “I found myself suddenly hooked to porn. Then, one day, my friends arranged a girl for me. That was it. By the time I was 35, I had chatted with some 6,500 women. I would leave my number online and then hook up. But it was when I graduated to men that I started feeling mentally tortured. I wanted to stop.”

Just that Nirmal, like the growing hordes of sex addicts in a country free, mobile and connected like never before, had nowhere to go for his de-addiction. Sex addiction, which can ruin families and lives, is on the rise in India with bureaucrats, politicians, film stars, doctors and students all falling prey to it. But there are very few clinics in the country that recognize this condition, treated as it is as the hush-hush disease.

Apart from the anxiety of the patients, in a country like India with little security for women(Delhi recorded a 24% rise in rape cases in 2012), it can also be downright dangerous. It’s easy for these addicts to turn into sexual predators.

Steven Pinker, professor of psychology at Harvard, recently told TOI: “Ordinarily, men woo and seduce women. But in unregulated settings, and when men are desperate, it can lead to harassment and rape.” Sex Addicts Anonymous, a book published in the US in 2005, has first-person accounts by sex addicts who committed rape.

Experts are unanimous in that the time has come to accept that the affliction – also called paraphilia, meaning ‘beyond love’ – exists in substantial numbers in India and deal with it. “Sex addiction cases I get have doubled in the last decade,” says Dr Rajan Bhonsle, head of the department of sexual medicine at Seth G S Medical College, Mumbai. “I have 25-30 cases every month and they come from all parts of India.” Sexologist Dr Prakash Kothari says he used to get 1-3 patients a month at KEM Hospital earlier. “Now it’s 10-12.”

That might be minuscule compared to the US where, according to The Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health, 3-5% of the sexually active population has this problem. “But in India, there is a cloak of hypocrisy,” says Bhonsle. “The actual cases would be much more.” Even conservative Iran has 1,572 members in Sexaholics Anonymous. India? Just 2. This may change, however, with Sex Addicts Anonymous deciding to start its first India meeting in Delhi on January 28.

Bangalore-based Rajiv, 55, who was hooked to pornography from the age of 11, would perhaps be in attendance. “I would collect 20kg of porno magazines and CDs over a mere six months, dispose them off and buy more,” says the engineer. “I had no relations with my wife. For four years, I used escort services and spent Rs 10 lakh on them. I recovered in a rehab abroad. But not all of us can go to foreign countries for treatment. We need such places here. We also need to bring it out of the closet.”


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