It Could Happen to You

What India Today Sex Survey 2018 reveals about Indians having sex at workplace

The cover story raises fundamental questions that call out for engagement, exploration and evaluation.

 |  It Could Happen to You  |  5-minute read |   03-03-2018
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Do you think it’s all right for co-workers to engage in sexual relations?

  • No, it’s a bad idea
  • Okay, if done professionally
  • Why not?  

Which of the three options do you think most Indians would choose? No-brainer, did you say, in a country famously skittish about sex? Hold on, wait a minute. Look behind the numbers of the 2018 India Today Sex Survey: “Sex At Work”. 

The India Today Sex Surveys have thrown up a dizzying array of numbers over the past 15 years. Sometimes sensational, sometimes sensual, sometimes sober, sometimes salacious, sometimes silly - but never ever dull. This year, too, as our sex survey meanders from the bedroom to the boardroom, the surprise is total. 

Why workplace?

2017 has seen an explosion of rage around sexual harassment. Reports of sexual misconduct by people in power are out every day. And the workplace has been at the forefront of the dialogue picking up steam across the world. An outpouring of "Me Too" stories have broken the veil of silence behind which the Harvey Weinsteins of workplaces have hidden for far too long. 

ite-sex-cover-mar12__030318123246.jpgIndia Today cover story, Sex at Work, for March 12, 2018

In India, although the Supreme Court formulated the Vishakha Guidelines in 1997 against sexual harassment of women at the workplace (Vishakha versus State of Rajasthan), sexual abuse and aberrations at the workplace have returned to the spotlight time and again.

Infamous cases of famous men - KPS Gill, Phaneesh Murthy, David Davidar, Tarun Tejpal to RK Pachauri - have rocked the nation.

In this context, India Today decided to look at the prevalence, perception and practice of sex at the modern workplace (in association with MDRA-Marketing & Development Research Associates, New Delhi).

Uh-oh and oops 

One in every two Indians surveyed says it’s a bad idea for colleagues to have sex, but over two in five say, “Not really”. As many men say sex with office mates is fine, as those who oppose it. And here is where things get interesting: while most believe just 10 per cent of their colleagues are involved sexually, the actual number is way higher.

Our survey reveals a gender gap behind the cubicles: if most men are open to office romance and flings, most women are not; if more men have dreamed about a colleague, few women have. But - surprise - equal number of men, as women, allege that they have faced sexual harassment at the workplace. 

Numbers from cities make one sit up and take note: Delhi tops the nation in knowing people who have been charged with sexual harassment at workplace, double the national number. Are employees in Pune engaging in more sex or are the organisations more vigilant?

Over 83 per cent in Pune say they know people who were caught for having sex in office, double the national number. What’s going on in Guwahati? Four in five out of those who have had sex with colleagues claim to have done it at work and during work hours. In Jaipur, over 47 per cent claim to have had affairs at work - the highest among all the cities.

Alarm bells 

Sex at workplace is a complex issue that prompts a rich range of views. Of the experts writing in, sociologist Anagha Sarpotdar analyses the new culture of informality and intimacy at the workplace, thanks to the internet; senior advocate Rebecca John talks about the pattern typical of sexual predators; clinical sexologist Dr Narayana Reddy profiles the personality types of sexual offenders at the workplace, entrepreneur Sairee Chahal recounts gender stereotyping at the workplace, organisational behaviour consultant Nanda Majumdar addresses how men and women perceive the workplace differently; psychiatrist Dr Pratima Murthy of NIMHANS discusses the danger of not knowing what constitutes mutual consent vis-a-vis what amounts to coercion; psychiatrist Dr Alok Sarin of Sitaram Bhartiya Hospital, Delhi, looks at the hushed silence over sexual boundary violations.

Flirting, bantering, sexual jokes, touching, consuming pornography, dating, affairs, live-in relationships to marriage - sex at workplace can take any form.

But how pervasive is consensual sexual activity in the workplace? Where does consent end and coercion begin? How do workers and organisations distinguish between wanted and unwanted sexual behaviour? Will the hour of collective anger over sexual harassment bring in lasting change if we do not focus attention also on the workplace attraction, romance or consensual sex?

The India Today survey raises fundamental questions that call out for engagement, exploration and evaluation by scholars, to draw the full picture of Indian sexuality.

Not the least

This is the first time India Today annual sex survey has been conducted in two parts. Despite the focus on sex at the workplace, we did not wish to lose track of the sexual preferences and habits of Indians, something the magazine has uncovered on its pages for the past 15 years. That’s the second survey in the current issue of the India Today magazine and uncovers the “new normal” sexual expectations and behaviours of urban working professionals.

Read on to take a peek into the nation’s most intimate moments, from bedroom to boardroom.

Also read: Why India Today Sex Survey 2018 focus is on Indians having sex at workplace

Writer

Damayanti Datta Damayanti Datta @dattadamayanti

The writer is Executive Editor, India Today.

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