• According to 'Love and Sex in India', 90% of Indian marriages are arranged. (SBS)Source: SBS
‘Love and Sex in...’ looks at the intersection of traditional and contemporary relationships in India, China, Japan and America.
Tanya Modini

7 Jun 2019 - 9:46 AM  UPDATED 7 Jun 2019 - 12:15 PM

In the Love and Sex in... series, director Sarah Fournier and her team investigate the rules of relationships in different parts of the world. They explore stories of forbidden love, solo weddings, love commandos, concubines, cuddle cafes and the role religion plays.


To improve your marriage prospects in some communities in India, you must be considered to have an impeccable reputation, and with 90 per cent of Indian marriages still being arranged, most brides and grooms do not know each other very well before their wedding day.

To bridge this information gap, private detectives, including India’s first female detective, Rajani Pandit, have the job of getting the low-down on the character of potential spouses to determine if they are suitable to enter into marriage.

Rules of marriage in some parts of India can include a preference of not marrying outside your caste or religion. To step outside these boundaries often leads to couples being subjected to the wrath and sometimes lethal vengeance of their own families. This leads to multi-caste couples running away and turning to “The Love Commandos”, an organisation that shelters and protects just such couples.

Watch Love and Sex in India at SBS On Demand:


China’s population is currently just over 1.4 billion and with an estimated 180 million single people and a tradition that demands marriage, a substantial dating market has emerged. Love and Sex in China takes us to the singles fairs and matchmaking expos that have become commonplace and where parents often attend to distribute photos of their marriage-eligible children.

To be considered marriage-worthy, men need to be financially stable and women need to be under the age of 27 or face life being categorised as “the leftover”.

Seventy per cent of Chinese women say they would never marry a man who didn’t have his own property. But with rents being exorbitantly high, most Chinese men can’t afford that option.

This has led to the re-emergence of concubines – women who, to meet their needs, are turning to life as an expensive mistress to wealthy men. In return, the concubines need to be entirely available at all times to attend to the whims of their “protectors”.

Watch Love and Sex in China at SBS On Demand:


With a 30 per cent fall in marriages over the past 30 years in Japan and a quarter of 20–30-year-olds admitting to being virgins, the Japanese birthrate has plummeted. Paradoxically, Japan is also the world’s biggest producer of pornographic films with around 30,000 porn films made in Japan each year.

More than half of all unmarried Japanese people do not have friends of the opposite sex. This love crisis has led to armies of young men being hired out to women as rental boyfriends to coach their clients in seduction, love and how to communicate and behave with the opposite sex. Holding hands with a rental boyfriend is acceptable, but sex is strictly prohibited.

For men wanting to know what it feels like to have a little more physical contact with women, “Cuddle Cafes” offer menu services from massage (over clothing) to holding a woman closely to putting their head in her lap.

Watch Love and Sex in Japan at SBS On Demand:

The Love and Sex in... series concludes with Love and Sex in America, airing on Friday 7 June at 9:10pm on SBS VICELAND. 

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