Index EuropeBosnia-Herzegovina


Bosnian Muslims  (eHRAF)


Bringa (1995)[1] offers a chapter titled "socializing the bride" (p98-103), but few statements on childhood here. From p105-6:


“The word cura (pl. cure, girl) underscores a girl's or young woman’s unmarried status, but carries the meaning of an unmarried virgin. A cura's status was radically different from that of all other women, whether wives, divorcees, or widows, the chief distinguishing factor being her assumed ignorance of sexuality. Above all, her status was contrasted to that of a [unknown] zena (pl.[unknown]zene ), which means both “woman” and “wife”. A girl becomes a cura in her early teens at the age of sexual maturity. Before this she is called a curica (little girl). Increasingly in recent years, however, maturity was related more to educational level than to sexual maturity. Since most parents wanted their daughters to finish at least eight years of compulsory school, they did not allow them to go to places outside school (such as fairs or the Saturday dance) where they would meet boys. This would change after the age of fourteen, when a girl would have finished her eighth year. Being allowed to the dance meant that parents considered their daughter to have reached marriageable age. Some parents extended these restrictions well into secondary school. But by then parental control was becoming increasingly difficult since their daughters had to travel to one of the market towns to attend secondary school”.




“Some fathers were not as strict as others but most were under pressure (not untypically from their wives or their own mothers) to guard the moral reputation of their daughters and make sure they did not shame the household by inappropriate behavior, which in most cases meant inappropriate sexual behavior. They worried that their daughter would get pregnant before marriage, that she would run off with a boy before she had finished her education, or that she would run off with someone who was unacceptable to the family for various reasons ranging from a reputation among men for untrustworthiness or promiscuity to poor economic prospects and lack of financial security, to his not being a Muslim".



“[...] the couple often engage in a period of courthip that may last from several months to a year or two before they get married publicly. [...] Some of the girls in the village told me that they thought some boys would exploit girls who wanted to get married. They suggested that some boys would use the low degree of initial commitment of a modern marriage by elopement as a strategy for having a sexual relationship with a girl. It also seemed to have been a game among some boys, teasing and challenging each other into trying to persuade the girl to marry one of them that night, “marrying” being a euphemism for “having sexual intercourse with." Older girls and women, themselves very suspicious of men, their claims, and intentions, described the often very young girls who got married like this without any prior knowledge of the boy they had agreed to marry, as very naïve”.


Lockwood (1983:p19)[2]:


“One of the high points in life is when the boy becomes a momak (a marriageable lad) and the girl a cura (a maiden). With their new status, courtship begins. [...] Before a [Planinica] lad is considered ready for marriage, he serves in the army. [...] While in the army, often in areas less restrictive than his own, he usually experiences sex for the first time. When he returns, he is ready for marriage and his father and mother urge him to choose a wife”.


“Courtship is an important process that begins during the mid-teen years”, some details of which are given at p50-4. “Despite the suggestiveness of these lines, cases of premarital sex for maidens are very rare” (p121n).






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

Last revised: Dec 2004


[1] Bringa, T. (1995) Being Muslim the Bosnian Way: Identity and Community in a CentralBosnianVillage. Princeton, New Jersey: PrincetonUniversity Press

[2] Lockwood, Y. R. (1983) Text and Context: Folksong in a BosnianMuslimVillage.Columbus, Ohio: Slavica Publishers