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Ms Raja says that rather than empower women, the cream will do the opposite, by reaffirming a patriarchal view that is held by many here - the notion that men want all women to be virgins until their wedding night. |
"Why should women remain a virgin until marriage? It is a woman's right to have sexual relations with a man, but society here still says they should not until they are brides."
"Being a virgin is still prized, and I don't think attitudes will change in this century," says Dr Mahinda Watsa, a gynaecologist who writes a popular sexual advice column in the Mumbai Mirror and Bangalore Mirror newspaper.
Dr Watsa has answered more than 30,000 questions from Indians wanting sexual advice, and says a common question from men is how to find out whether their wife is a virgin, or from women who are keen their husband doesn't know they are not.
"Men still hope they're marrying a virgin, but more girls in India, at least in the towns and cities, are having sex before.
"Women write to me - and say, what do I do? I've had sex with other people but how do I convince people that I'm a virgin?"
Dr Watsa says that in major cities and towns more people are sexually active before marriage - more women working and having independence has led to women having more confidence and interactions with men.
"There is definitely more casual sex and sex before marriage happening in India nowadays," says Dr Nisreen Nakhoda, a GP who advises on sexual health for the medical website MDhil.
Dr Nakhoda is sceptical about how a cream such as 18 Again can work.
Ancient India has always been celebrated for its sexual openness "Tightening the vagina is done by the vaginal muscles so I don't know how a local cream can do the job," she says, but believes it has the potential to do well in India because even if practices are changing, attitudes are not catching up as fast, so some people would try anything to cover up any hint of their actions.
"It's all very under wraps and discreet, no-one really discusses their sex lives with their friends or boyfriends," says Dr Nakhoda.
She says she has even heard stories of companies which work at night, such as call centres, finding their toilets full of condoms which they cannot flush down, as some couples find it hard to find a place to be alone.
A survey of more than 5,000 people by India Today magazine last year showed that fewer than 1 in 5 (19%) of respondents were open to the idea of pre-marital sex, or live-in relationships, with a quarter of people saying they did not object to sex before marriage, as long as it was not happening in their family.
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On one hand you're supposed to be the traditional demure Indian bride, but on the other hand, you don't want to have to wait for sex”
Dr Nisreen Nakhoda
"We're brought up being told that having sex with someone is a bit vulgar," says one 26-year-old virgin.
"When you're younger it's hard to have a boyfriend, and most of my friends who did had to go to great lengths to lie to their parents," adds the girl, who says she hopes to lose her virginity to her husband.
Another 27-year-old girl, who first had sex at the age of 20 and has had three sexual partners, believes a lot of the stigma comes from the idea that a man wants to feel like he owns a woman, adding that the idea that a women who sleeps with multiple partners might be called a "slut" is something all societies have to contend with.
"The Indian mindset is in a state of turmoil," says Dr Nahkoda,
"The young generation wants to be hip and cool and try out sex before marriage, but they're still brought up in the traditional set up where it's taboo to have sex before marriage. This leads to a lot of confusion in many teenagers.
"On one hand you're supposed to be the traditional demure Indian bride, but on the other hand, you don't want to have to wait for sex because people are marrying later. Temptations are coming their way and people are no longer resisting," says Dr Nakhoda.
The introduction of a vagina tightening cream, follows a recent controversy over a vagina skin lightening cream. Both are examples of how traditional values are clashing with newer ones in today's India.
Annie Raja says these kind of products are all about giving men control over how a woman should behave or look, and that this is outdated and dangerous.
But Ultratech's Rishi Bhatia says the fuss is unwarranted.
"Men have so many products they can buy to enhance their sexual pleasure, this is just putting sexual enhancement in the hands of women."