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Times of India
25 August 2008
Mumbai, India
By Aamir Sheikh

Virginity Virginity
More than half of the women in Maharashtra lose their virginity by the time they reach 18 years of age, while men experience their first sexual intercourse by the age of 24, according to the latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS–3).

Among the youth in the 15–24 age group, women are much more likely than men to have intercourse due to the early marriage system prevalent in the state, it said. NFHS–3, which was released recently, reveals information on population, health and nutrition in urban and rural Maharashtra.

About 39% of women get married before the legal minimum age of 18 that forces them into teenage pregnancy. The incidents of teenage pregnancy are 14% in the state, the report, which is based on interviews of 9,034 women and 8,867 men, said.

Maharashtra, at 67%, has the fifth highest contraceptive rate in the country. But only 47% of women know that consistent condom use can prevent HIV/AIDS and only 30% women have ‘Comprehensive knowledge’ of it. Nearly 50% of women and 17% men in the state are anaemic.

The report indicated that almost one in three married women in the state has experienced spousal physical or sexual violence. Surprisingly, 51% of women believe that it is justifiable for husbands to beat their wives in some cases.

About 30% of the women have been slapped by their husbands. Eight to 12% women report having arms twisted or hair pulled, being shaken, kicked or having something thrown at them. But only 1% of women have initiated violence against their husbands. AGENCIES

Telling Figures
Early marriage system leads to early sex.
Men have their first sexual experience by 18.
NFHS–3 data pegs teenage pregnancy at 14%.
Despite high contraceptive usage, few women know that condoms can help prevent HIV/AIDS.
One in three woman suffers spousal abuse, 51% believe it’s okay for a man to beat his wife under specific circumstances.

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