Document Type


Publication Date



Premarital partnerships among youth are widely discouraged in India. Indeed, there is a widespread perception that youth do not find opportunities to mix and form romantic relationships, and that premarital sex is negligible. These kinds of perceptions are often cited to argue against the provision of sexuality or family life education and sexual and reproductive health services to unmarried young people. While several small studies have noted that sizable proportions of young people, particularly young men, are sexually active before marriage, the lack of rigorous evidence on the levels and patterns of intimate partnerships among youth continues to hamper the design of appropriate policies and programs to address young people’s sexual health needs. This brief presents data drawn from the Youth in India: Situation and Needs study, undertaken to assess key transitions experienced by young people in six states of India. Findings indicate that opportunities to form premarital romantic relationships did exist for young people, that young men and women entered premarital relationships with differing expectations, that premarital sex was by and large unsafe, and that experiences were nonconsensual for substantial minorities of young people, particularly young women.






Youth in India: Situation and Needs Study