NEW BRITAIN(Bismarck Archipelago) (New Guinea)


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Boys receive preparation for marriage in a secret society (Dukduk), but no such preparation is known to exist for girls (Danks, 1889:p283)[1]. Though not typical, mothers would purchase girls aged 5 or 6 to marry them to their sons, the date of which remains uncertain (“[..] he will undoubtedly wait until the girl has reached eleven or twelve years of age”). Betrothals would be arranged before birth. Also, “I have seen a fine healthy girl of not more than eleven or twelve years of age married to a man of twenty-five or thirty. The result of such an early union for the girl has been dreadful. To judge of her sufferings by her altered appearance they must have been dreadful” (also cited by Sumner, 1906:p382)[2].

Contrary to the myth about Tikitolo / Aragas (Counts and Counts, 1983:p46[3]; Counts, 1994:p118, 119[4]) informants did not state that there was a relation of sexual intercourse with menarche. This could well have been the case since prepubertal marriage was prevalent only two generations back (p49). The girl would live with her husband’s parents until after menarche “married life” began. Ronhaar[5] reviews that sexual intercourse occurs on a normative basis between boys and women. Kleintitschen (1906:p213, as cited by Ronhaar, p338)[6] observed that “[c]hildren witness all the shameless actions performed by their elders. At the age of 5 they also commence with all these things. The parents laugh at it, and do not even shrink from seducing their own children” [?].









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] Danks, B. (1889) Marriage Customs of the New Britain Group, J Anthropol Instit Great Britain & Ireland 18:281-94

[2] Sumner, W. G. (1906) Folkways. Boston [etc.]: Ginn & Co.

[3] Counts, D. A. & Counts, D. R. (1983) Father’s water equals mother’s milk: the conception of parentage in Kaliai, West New Britain, Mankind 14,1:46-56

[4] Counts, D. A. (1994) Snakes, adulterers, and the loss of paradise in Kaliai, Pacific Studies 17:109-51

[5] Ronhaar, J. H. (1931) Woman in Primitive Motherright Societies. Groningen [Holland]: Wolters/ London: D. Nutt, p327

[6] Kleintitschen, P. A. (1906) Die Küstenbewohner der Gazellehalbinsel […]. Hiltrup bei München: Herz-Jesu-Missionshaus