‘The Age Of Innocence’ by Nishita Jha

THREE YEARS ago, Akshay, a 14-year-old from a posh Delhi school, rolled his eyes at me when I asked him if he was a virgin. “These ideas are outdated man, what’s the big deal about sex? It made sense to me to do it, so I did it,” he had smirked. This week, it did become a big deal. Akshay, like several of the children I’d interviewed forTEHELKA’s cover story on the highly sexualised lives of urban schoolchildren, could go to jail for engaging in sexual activity below the newly appointed age of consent (AoC), 18.

In 2010, TEHELKA found that age was more than just a number to several young people — it was a ticking stopwatch in the race to outdo each other in the bedroom (and school toilets, parent-free homes, parked cars and occasionally hotel rooms). Through interviews across Delhi, Jaipur, Chandigarh and Mumbai, we met terrifyingly sexual creatures of all shapes and sizes — nine-year-olds who distributed porn in class (spiral-bound and printed in booklets), 12-year-olds already visiting shrinks for relationships that had turned sour (because their parents discovered them having oral sex), 14-year-olds who had photographed themselves in the nude, made videos of their accomplishments and passed them around for classmates to cackle over and 16-year-olds who had impregnated 19-year-olds (and knew exactly “how to take care of it”).

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