“Between the ages of four and six, boys and girls engage in sex play, imitating their parents, who do not take any precautions to prevent the children from witnessing their sex act. Since children sleep with the mother and observe the father visiting her, sex education starts early in a Barabaig household. Boys and girls six years of age build a small hut of sticks and grass a short distance from the kraal and engage in juvenile sex play. If they are discovered by either parent, the children will not be admonished or made to feel ashamed, although the girl will be called away to run an errand. It is a short transitional step from the sex play of children to the sexual liaisons of adolescent boys and girls”.
“[…] A) Female Circumcision which we took to this community as Female Genital Mutilation was not a priority in their community. They felt they were facing worse dangers than a cultural custom passed on by many generations with no apparent catastrophe. B) Yes, they were also aware of some of the dangers and problem areas, but what were the choices? How could we guarantee that their ancestors who had started the practice would “smile on the changes”? c) The harsh conditions under which they live permits virtually no negotiation about belonging culturally, and female circumcision is one way to belong. An uncircumcised girl could not get married in that community and there is no mobility for her to go elsewhere to get a husband. Asking a girl not to get circumcised virtually condemns her to a life of NO MARRIAGE and of course no children. Schools could possibly help, but they aren’t many and they are far away. Young ones entering standard one could not possible make it to the school. Worse still, when girls finish standard seven they go “to cook, wash dishes and clothes” for rich people in town which among the Barbaig is the very height of shame. […]”.
D. F., Growing Up Sexually.
Last revised: Apr 2005