Urban Indian teenagers are being hounded by demands for non-consensual sex, with boys apparently being more at risk. According to a study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University of the US, 15% of boys and 3% of girls reported that someone forcibly tried to have a physical relationship with them. Boys who had friends of the opposite sex were more likely to report attempted forced physical relationships. In fact, the most commonly reported perpetrators were female friends for boys (72%) and neighbours (60%) for girls.
Writing in the Journal for Adolescent Health, Dr PH Jaya and Michelle J Hindon said 32% of boys and 42% of girls reported being touched against their will. Boys and girls who had been employed and those who had friends of the opposite sex were more likely to report the experience. When it came to unwelcome touch, the most common perpetrators were female friends for boys (60%) and strangers for girls (93%).
The study, which covered 583 boys and 474 girls in Delhi in the age group of 15-19, does not detail who these ‘female friends’ might be or their ages. It merely states that these female friends could be dating partners, friends of the same age or older to them. “The purpose of the study was to examine the magnitude of the problem. Hence, we focused on limited questions only and did not go into the details of who exactly these perpetrators were,” said Jaya.
While underlining the negative effects of non-consensual sex on the minds of adolescents, Samir Parekh, consultant psychiatrist, Max Healthcare, New Delhi, finds the results among boys surprising. “If same age children are touching or having sex, then it is surprising that a 16-year-old girl will like it and a 16-year boy will not. The boy may be reluctant but it sounds culturally inappropriate to say he was forced into it by a female friend of the same age.