It has been 15 years since Zakeena (name changed) entered into wedlock with Aziz (name changed). All was well with the couple, except for the fact that they had been leading an unconsummated life all these years.
What bothered them most was the taunts they had to face from their families and society because of their unconsummated marriage. Their helplessness lay in the fact that Zakeena remained a virgin after more than a decade of marriage and in no way could they explain it to anyone.
Dr Pramodu, a renowned sexologist in the state, says that Zakeena is a victim of vaginismus, a situation in which a woman is unable to undergo any type of vaginal penetration. Unfortunately, 90 per cent of women facing this trauma have never understood the real cause and those who are aware of it shy away from sharing it with anyone else, fearing social stigma and isolation. As a result, some marriages turn out to be failures.
“Most of the couples are ignorant about the situation and they even resort to black magic for a solution. Most of these cases that reach family courts are annulled as unconsummated marriage, since the parties are not willing to discuss more about this ‘strange’ condition,” he says.
In the words of Dr P A Lalitha, a leading gynaecologist and managing director of Malabar Hospital, “Fear is the main reason behind this condition. Added to that, early marriages and lack of proper sex education add more oil to the fire. A lot of patients struggling with this condition come to me. I have even come across a case in which the couple decided to head for divorce.”
As per records, Promodu’s Institute of Sexual and Marital Health in Kochi has come across approximately 12,718 patients in eight years, of which, as Dr Promodu says, “96 per cent of the cases were registered for vaginismus treatment, out of these most of the cases were referred to by family courts.
Surprisingly, at least 30 to 50 per cent of couples who were opting for divorce was because of vaginismus,” says the doctor.
“Parties filing joint petitions are not willing for further discussions and there is no other way than grant them divorce. Moreover, our law permits divorce on grounds of vaginismus,” says Adv Ambika A C. Having served more than 12 years in the family court, the lawyer says, “I have come across only a single case in which legal advice was sought on the issue.”
The longest case of vaginismus reported at Dr Pramodu’s institute was that of a couple from Malappuram who were married for 21 years. “At a time when divorce is the only solution that some couples opt for, I was surprised by this couple’s bonding for each other. Twenty one years is definitely not a small time span and overcoming all other obstacles, they decided to remain as husband and wife.” But the case is not the same with others. “There is not a single hospital we have not consulted, and surprisingly, all the tests proved positive, indicating that both of us were completely fit and fine to remain in wedlock. But then situations have not improved a bit and divorce is not far from my thoughts,” says Shyam Kiran (name changed), a man who has been married for just a year.
Says Anupama Nair, a psychologist, “I have come across a case in which the wife herself demanded divorce on grounds that she is helpless about the situation and could no more handle the stress from her partner. Some gynaecologists had even misled the couple saying that some miserable sexual experiences before marriage could be the reason for her condition.”
Noorbina Rasheed, member, Kerala State Women’s Commission’ says, “I have not heard about such a condition. It’s rather shocking.” The fact is yet to dawn on some even now that there is such a condition and what is required is moral support rather than isolation and abandonment.