Growing Up Sexually



South America




AYMARA (Bolivia, Peru)


IndexAmericasSouth AmericaBoliviaAymara

Also featured: Siriono; ®Mataco


Tschopik (1951:p167)[1]writes: “Owing to sleeping arrangements within the Aymara household, children are, moreover, aware of adult sexuality from early childhood, and it is not surprising in view of the lax attitudes towards sexual behavior that they themselves should experiment freely as soon as they are so inclined. As a consequence, both boys and girls have had first-hand experience and are thoroughly familiar with sex long before they have reached puberty. It seems unnecessary, therefore, to point out that in this society no importance whatever is attached to virginity”.


“The sex play of young children is viewed by adults with tolerant amusement, and masturbation, though ridiculed, is not actively disapproved, with the result that informants recall having practiced it with no apparent feelings of guilt or shame. Attempts at heterosexual activity on the part of children are, generally speaking, ignored, and if noted tend to evoke amusement or mild ridicule on the part of adults”. […] “As adolescence approaches, girls are often admonished by their mothers not to have “too many” love affairs, but maternal advice in regard to affairs of the heart is customarily elastic and vague. In few instances do illegitimate children constitute a bar to the marriageability of their unwed mothers. Boys are merely warned not to make girls pregnant, lest they become involved with some undesirable and unscrupulous woman who might have serious matrimonial intentions. Evidence furnished by life histories indicates that in not a few instances girls or women take the initiative in making sexual advances, and, indeed, it is the opinion of some Aymara that women are more ardent than men” (p167a-b).


La Barre (1948:p126)[2] agrees that under the given circumstances, (“As far as the facts of procreation are concerned, no attempt is made to preserve children from a knowledge of them; the entire family sleeps together on one bed on the raised mud platform in the one-room native hut. No excessive care for privacy is exercised in any case […]”), “Aymara children are aware of genital sexuality from earliest childhood”. Nevertheless, they have an expression for coitarche: lliukattatha.










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] Tschopik Jr, H. (1951) The Aymara of Chucuito, Peru. Anthropological Papers of the AmericanMuseum of Natural History 44,2: Vol. 1, Magic . New York: AmericanMuseum of Natural History, p167A. See also Tschopik, H (1946) The Aymara, Bull Bureau Am Ethnol 143,2:[p550]

[2] La Barre, W. (1948) The Aymara Indians of the Lake Titicaca Plateau. Menasha, Wis.: American Anthropological Association. Memoirs American Anthropological Association 68, vol. 50, no. 1,, pt. 2