If on the one hand parental pressures aren’t bad enough, peer pressures make matters only worse.
“It matters to young people how many friends they have on Facebook or what brand of clothes they wear, what mobile phone they use and who they’re seen with. The funny part is that they may be ok with what they have as long as they don’t know what their friends do too,” Sadia Raval tells me.
A friend and a mother-of-two once told me that her daughter was angry for purchasing a Maruti Swift because it was too downmarket for her. Her daughter is said to have told her that she ‘should’ve considered a Honda CRV’. My friend, a single mother in her early 50s and had the liberty of having a car quite late in life herself, gasped at the thought and quite simply asked her to take the bus since she found being seen in a Swift below her dignity!
Doctoral candidate Antoinette Landor who presented some of her findings at the World Congress for Sexual Health in Glasgow has drawn a connection between teens losing their virginity and peer pressure.
Landor explains that peer pressure often drives young people into their lovers’ beds. “They are more likely to have a higher number of sex partners and a higher number of oral sex partners. They are more likely to not delay sex, and engage in sex without any contraception,” she says.
Although Landor’s study does not include Indian teens, the findings are relevant to the (urban) Indian context too. A former colleague who studied in one of the more posh schools in Mumbai with more than a dozen Bollywood kids as his classmates told me that they ‘went the whole hog’ by the time they graduated out of Class Ten. He laughed heartily as I looked at him with some amount of disbelief (and perhaps a little jealousy) and assured me he wasn’t lying.
What he said was confirmed by India Today‘s most recent survey that revealed at least 24 per cent respondents across the country had lost their virginity while they were still in their teens (the figures were 20 per cent higher in Delhi).
“It is almost like a competition,” my Maruti Swift-driving friend tells me. “If your friend has slept with someone, you want to as well, just to prove a point and just so you can fit in with the group.”