Growing Up Sexually




More: Abor, Lingayats, Bengali, Punjabi; Rājpūts, Brahmans, Nagas, Chamars, Todas, Purum, Veda, Santals, Garos, Muria Gonds, Baiga, Nimar Bahalis, Telugu, Lepcha, Lodha, Uttar Pradesh, Andamanese, Nicorbarese, Badaga



“Among Sinhalese, pre-puberty intercourse is regarded to be beastly, a moral defect. I relate this disapproval to the fact that the puberty rite is not performed until menstruation and the young girl is particularly exposed to ritual dangers by such untimely intercourse” (Yalman, 1963:p57, n26)[1]. Until the present century, female puberty and marriage ceremonies were identical, and the existence of both boy- en girlhood “adolescence” was denied[2]. Leach (1961)[3]:


“This is a society in which the individual achieves adult status very young. Girls are considered adult as soon as they have had their first menstruation and they commonly bear children very shortly afterwards. There is probably some tendency for the age at which women have their first pregnancy to rise, but this is not yet obvious. Mothers of fifteen or sixteen years of age are common. Boys usually start getting “married” at about the age of eighteen”.





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

Last revised: May 2005


[1] Yalman, N.  On the Purity of Women in the Castes of Ceylon and Malabar, J Royal Anthropol Instit Great Britain & Ireland 93,1:25-58

[2] Furstenberg, Jr., F. F. (1998) When Will Teenage Childbearing Become a Problem? The Implications of Western Experience for Developing Countries, Stud Fam Plann 29,2:137-53, at p144

[3] Leach, E. R. (1961) Pul Eliya, A Village in Ceylon. Cambridge: CambridgeUniversity Press