Growing Up Sexually









Peter of Greece and Denmark (1963:p377)[1] on Western Tibet: “I enquired who it was who gave the children their sex education. The answer was that nobody did. Parents are forbidden by custom to speak to them of such things, and they have to pick up what they can learn from playmates. Another source of information was watching animals, it seemed, and everyone agreed that that may lean something from witnessing their parents’ behaviour during the long winter nights in the Jan-sa. Anyhow, they “somehow” knew something about sex by the time they were approximately six years of age”. Masturbation in the very young was discouraged by threats of witches that would cut off their ears; the older ones are beaten. Ludwar-Ene (1975:p98-108)[2] provides a detailed interpretation of sexual socialisation among the Nepalese Tibetans. Infants from the age of three are raised in extreme modesty, girls more than boys. Mothers and neighbours distract the infant from and shame the child for genital manipulation, which is presumed to go underground.

Norbu[3], elder brother of the Dalai Lama, argues that “parents often arrange marriages for their children. But it is seldom that children are married against their whishes, and the wise guidance of older people often results in a happier marriage than when the youthful heart follows its desires” (p59). Normally, however, boys and girls around the age of 18 or 19 “start looking toward marriage” (p74).












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] Peter, Prince of Greece and Denmark (1963) A Study of Polyandry.The Hague: Mouton

[2] Ludwar-Ene, G. (1975) Die Sozialisation Tibetischer Kinder im Soziokulturellen Wandel, Dargestellt am Beispiel der Exiltibetersiedlung Dhor Patan (West Nepal).Wiesbaden: Steiner

[3] Norbu, Th. J. & Turnbull, C. M. (1968) Tibet. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1970 pr.