GAROS (India)

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Among the Garos, conjungal coitus is said to be delayed until puberty[1]. Dalton (1872:p64, as cited by Ronhaar)[2] reports “no restriction to innocent intercourse”, boys and girls freely mixing during field labour. Sinha (1966:p43)[3] remarked: “I have seen boys aged from four to seven years playing with bitches, as if performing sexual intercourse. In two or three cases, I noticed the penis of the boy erected, which he was pressing near the vulva of the bitch. On one occasion, I found a boy doing the same with a she-goat”. The adults regard it as nonsexual imitation of animal copulation[4], and joke about it. Masturbation[5] and homosexuality are said to be unknown, while “children are not known to indulge in heterosexual intercourse or sexual play till they are physically grown up”(Goswami and Majumdar, 1968:p56-7, 59)[6], despite ample opportunity for conversational instruction. Instead, “Young girls are occasionally married before puberty, and in such cases husbands copulate with them before the attainment of puberty. It is, however, believed that girls before puberty cannot retain the seeds deposited by the male. There is no taboo against sexual act with girls who have yet to attain puberty”.










Additional refs.: Burling (1963)[7]




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

Last revised: Sept 2004


[1] This is suggested by Nakane, Ch. (1967) Garo and Khasi: A Comparative Study in Matrilineal Systems. Paris: Mouton, p47-8: “When the head of a nok dies before the nokna marries the nokrom , the nokrom will marry both mother and daughter at the same time: the former is recognized as jikmamong (principal or first wife), and the latter jikgite (secondary wife). In such a case, the widow is usually comparatively young and her daughter still a child. Actual sexual relations with the latter will take place only when she attains puberty”.

[2]Dalton, E. T. (1872) Descriptive Ethnology of Bengal. Calcutta; Ronhaar, J. H. (1931) Woman in Primitive Motherright Societies. Groningen [Holland]: Wolters / London: D. Nutt, p333

[3] Sinha, T. (1966) The Psyche of the Garos. Calcutta: Anthropological Survey of India, Govt. of India

[4] Schachter and Cotte (1951) also conclude that it is the ambiance psycho-mésologique [psychosocial environment] that favours imitation of animal copulation.

[5] This was, as the authors point out, contested by Sinha (1966:p42), op.cit.

[6] Goswami, M. C. & Majumdar, D. N. (1968) A Study of Social Attitudes Among the Garo, Man in India 48, 1:53-70

[7] Burling, R. (1963) Rengsanggri: Family and Kinship in a GaroVillage. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press