DUSUN (Borneo, Indonesia)


IndexIndonesiaBorneo → Dusun

Kayans, Rungus Dusun, Dayak





Williams (1965:p83)[1]: “Most girls are initiated to sexual intercourse before 12, usually by boys of 14 to 16 years of age, and sometimes by men, [while, usually,] boys of 12 to 14 are initiated to sexual activities by a girl of 15 to 17 who is the regular partner of a group of boys of that age”. Williams (1966:p34)[2] stated that the Dusun parent quiets the girl by stroking the labia, and boys by pulling the preputium:


“[…] mothers often examine the anal region carefully and permit family dogs to lick the anus of an infant after defecation. […] Parents regularly stimulate genitals of infants and young children. Female infants are soothed by stroking the labia, while male infants are quieted by pulling at the foreskin. Older children are teased verbally by relatives of the opposite sex, particularly fathers, brothers and sisters, concerning precocious sexual development and likely powers in intercourse. Mothers often hold infant boys aloft in the course of singing magical growth songs, blowing softly on the penis, while noting aloud sexual powers to come at maturity. Aged and unrelated women often threaten to castrate four to sex year old boys, making pretended cuts in the direction of the genitals with a field knife, then pulling suddenly at the penis with the other hand, all to the great amusement of onlookers. Unrelated and aged males occasionally threaten young girls in a similar manner, and, while making a cutting motion at the labia comment loudly that such an act does no good since the girl has “already lost her penis” ”.


The same stimulation, and with the same purpose, is done with domestic animals (p35). Williams (1969:p101-4)[3] states that Dusun parents believed that copulation is best learned by observation and that they take no special precautions in its domestic practice. Children watch adolescent coitus, and sexual activities of babytenders. “In the absence of adults from the household, sex play between younger children regularly occurs, but usually only as an aspect of other play. A momentary attention is given to some openly sexual activity and then play moves to other, nonsexual concerns. […] Older children are severely censured by parents if discovered in display of their sexual anatomy and acts of mutual sex play and intercourse. If parents happen to discover older children engaged in sex play or having intercourse, they may take a bamboo stick to drive them apart. Nonrelated adults would scold the children involved, then ignore them”. The expression “animal intercourse” is used by attempts at censorship. Adult or adolescent homosexuality was said to be very rare.


See also: Rungus Dusun






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] Williams, Th. Rh. (1965) The Dusun, A North Borneo Society. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston

[2] Williams, Th. Rh. (1966) Cultural structuring of tactile experience in a Borneo Society, Am Anthropol 68,1:27-39

[3] Williams, Th. Rh. (1969) A Borneo Childhood.New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston