Being on the road means traveler children often grow up outside of educational systems. Which means they suffer educational and social exclusion if they do attend school. Many children never attend school, while others are illiterate because formal education is not a priority in the gypsy culture. Traveler girls are often taken out of education prior to secondary school to prevent them mixing with boys from other cultures.
Although gypsy girls wear very promiscuous clothes at parties, communions, proms and weddings, their morals do not reflect this. Traveling communities believe in the principle of no sex before marriage and girls who break this code are considered dirty and risk being left on the shelf. Unmarried young men and women are not allowed to socialize alone together because of the emphasis on female chastity.
Until they are engaged, some teenage traveler girls are subjected to the 'grabbing' courtship ritual, where a boy grabs a girl they want to kiss. Strict rules stipulate girls aren't allowed to approach boys, so it's up to the males to tempt the girl away from her friends. Grabbing can look violent and it seems the girls simply accept it as something that is part of their culture.
Marriage and Weddings
Couples marry young - girls at around 16 or 17, and boys between 18 and 19. They're not supposed to marry non-travelers but marriage to second cousins in families is common. Once married, the man rules the roost. As seen on Channel 4's My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, weddings can be over the top and extravagant. The girls have large princess-style dresses, tiaras and extravagant wedding cakes. Weddings are seen as huge social events where travelers can get together. They're also perfect places for men to look for dates.