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While the report notes that pre-marital sexual activity is clearly more common among men, some differences may reflect due to "over-reporting among males and under-reporting among females".
The report "Actions that protect: promoting sexual and reproductive behaviour and choice among young women in India" is authored by Shireen J Jejeebhoy and Mary Philip Sebastian.
There are an estimated 300 million young people (aged 10-24) in India of which adolescents (aged between 10-19) and youth (aged 15-24) represent one-third of the population.
They are by far healthier than any other age group and many of them are economically active but continue to be poorly educated, giving them opportunity but little reliable information about sex.
Evidence suggests that among young people who are sexually active before marriage, sexual debut occurs in late adolescence.
"There is also evidence to suggest that several more anticipate sexual activity in the foreseeable future: for example, while 15-17% young males in a Lucknow slum reported sexual activity, some 38% reported anticipating a sexual encounter in the next six months," the report says.
Studies also suggest that sexual behaviour falls along a continuum: from non-penetrative activities like hand-holding, kissing and touching to intercourse.
The report cites a study of low income college students in Mumbai that shows 26% of young men and 3% of young women reported penetrative sex, while many more, 49% and 13% respectively, reported other forms of physical intimacy.
The study however rubbishes the theory that certain areas in the country have high prevalence of casual sex relations.
"There does not seem to be regional concentration in the percentage of adolescents reporting high levels of casual sexual relations," it summarises.
A specific study in Pune district found urban youngsters were more sexually active than rural ones. The survey covered 8,595 married and unmarried men and women, aged 15-24 in Pune district.
An urban slum in Pune and a rural site covering 90 villages, both with a population of about 1 lakh each, were selected.
It was found that despite strict parental supervision and norms that discourage premarital inter-sex friendship, partnerships were formed that lead to sexual relations by 15-30% of men and 10% of women.