Growing Up Sexually



South America

IES: Brazil




IndexAmericasSouth AmericaBrazilApinayé






The Apinayé were said to believe that defloration was a prerequisite to menarche (Nimuendajú, 1939:p75; Nimuendajú, 1946:p120-1)[1]. Thus,


“Oddly enough, the Apinayé are thoroughly convinced that menstruation is impossible before defloration; its absolute prerequisite. […] references to a maiden’s first menses among civilized neighbors are met with derisive superciliousness. This view, incidentally, agrees with that of the Canella. Of course, such a theory could persist only among a people whose girls only exceptionally attain their first menses as virgins. Actually, this holds for the contemporary Apinayé. To marry off immature girls of ten or twelve is accordingly an ancient Apinayé custom, not an innovation. Among the Šere’nte this practice is an innovation” (N., 1939).


The Apinayé forbid masturbation from infancy (Ford & Beach, 1951:p180)[2]. Nimuendajú (1939:p74) relates that the Apinayé “declare that masturbation must not be tolerated because it enfeebles young folk and unfits them for log races. Guilty boys are recognized by the retractability of the prepuce. How girls are detected, I do not know; I was merely told that it was by the appearance of the genitalia”. At the log-race, boys are lined up and punished severely if thus detected.






Janssen, D. F., Growing Up Sexually. VolumeI. World Reference Atlas. 0.2 ed. 2004. Berlin: Magnus Hirschfeld Archive for Sexology

Last revised: Sept 2004


[1] Nimuendajú, C. (1939) The Apinayé. Washington: CatholicUniversity of California; Nimuendajú, C. (1946) The Eastern Timbira. Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press

[2] Ford, C. S. & Beach, F. A. (1951) Patterns of Sexual Behavior.New York: Harper & Row