In February 2011, in one of the regions of Georgia, a horrible incident happened. A 16 years old girl was killed by her boyfriend. She was 4 months pregnant, and wanted to get married. She left her home after she told her mother she was going to get married, in August. Since then, she has disappeared. After 5 month of seeking, the pregnant girl’s dead body was found buried in the forest. Parents of the boyfriend didn’t even know about her existence.
The different parts of society influenced the characters of this real story. Because of peer pressure, the 16 years old girl couldn’t reveal her pregnancy and the only solution that she found was to leave home and get married. Stereotype was the main reason why it was unacceptable for the boyfriend to marry the girl who was pregnant before marriage, as he was ashamed of it and afraid of peer judgment. The society also influenced the parents, as for them it was more usual to marry in teenage, than to have sex before marriage.
When I heard this story, I saw myself from a different view. When I was looking at myself from outside, I realized that I was a part of the society who did nothing to prevent this terrible case. It was pressure implementing society, and I was part of that pressure, because of my silence, ignorance and inaction. The reasons for this were simple excuses: “I am lazy, I do not have enough time, it is not my business, I still can’t change anything.”
I was thinking about all this and tried to imagine myself in the situation of the16-year old girl, who was victim of pressure. I was trying to feel what she was feeling. I realized that today may be it is not affecting me – I am not under so much pressure, but still I am a part of the same influencing society, and tomorrow I can be under the pressure.
I think this is the fact that we all must realize, this is the point from which we must begin to act today, because tomorrow may be too late.
This story gave me a possibility to consider, interpret values and when I looked back to my teenage period, I remembered, like all young people, in some degree I was also influenced by peer pressure and I also had some influence on my peers. I realized that we were all living in a society which was implementing pressure or was under pressure. But on the other hand, I remember that sometimes the influence was “good”. We were influencing our friends in making right decisions, or helping them in trouble, we were solving problems together. At this point I realized that peer pressure could be converted to huge energy, which could be used to improve future. The important thing is to use this energy correctly and give it a right direction.
Youth Peer Educators Network is first of all friendship for me. It is a huge energy, helping hands for young people with the same values, interests and goals to live in a better world. So this is a great resource which must be used to change the world, this is the reserve that the world already has, so it must not be wasted.
We – peer educators, are influencing each other, but this influence comes as a friendly advice. We can change the behavior; we can destroy stereotypes – the main reason for all kinds of pressure. And the most important thing is that we can avoid horrible stories like the one of the married teenage girl.
If we can save just one life, improve just one person’s living, make one person happier, then the work we are doing together has a great price.
So, Let’s Turn Commitments into Actions.
This blog is part of the campaign Ten Days of Activism, a global youth event lead by Y-PEER.
Member of Y-PEER Network in Georgia. She is the vice-president and one of the founders of Georgian Youth Development and Education Association (GYDEA), aiming to promote all main fields of youth development including: Health care, Education, Employment and Social protection. Her hobbies are reading, dancing, swimming, camping, traveling and painting on glass. She likes to communicate with new people and study new cultures.