Growing Up Sexually



South America

IES: Brazil






IndexAmericasSouth AmericaBrazilShavante / Xavante (Ge)




Maybury-Lewis (1967:p73-4)[1]: “By the time a girl is five […] she may well be married. When she is seven, she is already being watched carefully both by her kin and by her husband, for she will soon be considered physically able to cohabit with a man. Accordingly, a girl of about six years old tends to behave like a small, weak, and underdeveloped woman”. Her husband would wait until she is “matured sufficiently”, which was estimated as age eight to ten (p82-3, n1):


“I am uncertain as to the criteria according to which the Shavante deem a girl to be old enough for sexual intercourse. Girls are normally deflowered long before their first menses and before there has been any significant development of their breasts. It seems to depend largely on the size of the individual girl. Her husband will sleep with her as soon as he considers her to be big enough, which is between the ages of 8 and 10 as far I could judge”.


“One of the main objectives of the missionary boarding schools was to physically separate Xavante boys from girls, whose ”precocious sexuality”--girls can go through sexual initiation as early as 8 years of age-- outraged the chaste Christians”[2].





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] Maybury-Lewis, D. (1967) Akwe-Shavante Society.Oxford: Clarendon

[2] Leal Ferreira, M. K. ([2000]) The Two of Us Together: Xavante Mathematics in Central Brazil. Proceedings of the International Seminar on Aryabhateeyam.Thiruvananthapuram, India: Center for Mathematical Sciences. Online at