Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Papua New Guinea’s Sambia Tribe


While pedophilia is seen as a disturbing problem in many industrialized countries, there are still parts of the world that allow and accept pedophilia as part of their culture. For example, while countries such as the United States, Canada, and Britain ensure that no minor is taken advantage of by an adult and that the rights of children are protected through government laws, this is sadly not the case everywhere within the world. A sad reality of this can be seen in the Sambia tribe in Papua New Guinea. In the Sambia tribe, older men force young boys outside of their homes to begin their “masculinization process.” The young boys are taken away from their mothers at very young ages (from the age of 6 to 10) and forced to perform oral sex on much older men. Rather than denouncing pedophilia, the Sambia culture promotes and openly practices acts of pedophilia. I am shocked and disgusted that such appalling behaviour is allowed. No matter what arguments one may make about “culture” or “tradition,” this practice is a gross violation of these young boys’ bodies. I would even say that it is a form of rape – these young boys are taken from their homes and forced to perform oral sex acts on much older men. They do not choose this. Moreover, any boy that tries to escape this dehumanizing and inhumane practice of forced sex is cruelly punished. Sadly, allowing such practices to exist means that they are repeated again. The young boys who were essentially raped by the older men become adults themselves and go on to practice the same ritual on other young boys. The victims become the rapists and perpetuators of this barbaric act which violates the basic rights of the poor young boys. You may be wondering where the women stand within this culture – well they have as little rights as the young boys. They are seen as subordinate to the Sambia men and have little to no voice.*

What are your thoughts? Please share in the comment section.

*For more information on the Sambia tribe, please refer to the research done by Gilbert H. Herdt. The following references should be useful:

<!--[if !supportLists]-->·         <!--[endif]-->Herdt, Gilbert H. (1981). Guardians of the Flutes: Idioms of Masculinity. New York: McGraw-Hill.

<!--[if !supportLists]-->·         <!--[endif]-->Herdt, Gilbert H. (1982). Rituals of Manhood: Male Initiation in Papua New Guinea. Berkeley: University of California Press.


52 comments:

  1. Shocking to read about such things that go on in the world, which you wouldn't even think of. It's sad to know that as we so easily live our lives in comfort, there is no doubt that they are living a life of hell.

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    1. Wrong! The more you live in comfort, the more you can't live without it.

      So stop the comparison between you and them cause they can survive years in the forest without the guidance of advance technology unlike you.

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    2. What you are saying in no way refutes Manpreet's analysis. Sexual abuse is not good for people. Even those who are socialized into sexually abusive situations from the earliest ages often intuitively know it is wrong and attempt to escape the situations when possible. Among the Sambia people, mothers and children who are forced into such abuse are often threatened with death.

      None of this is changed by Manpreet's comfort or use of technology.

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  2. Gilbert Herdt studied the Sambia and the purpose for their semen is to provide the boys with strength. It sounds horrendous coming from a western perspective however it is important not to use western principles as the standard for which we compare.

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    1. What if it happened to western children, say yours? Then it would be rape.

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    2. Sambian People aren't Western Children.

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    3. These children and their parents are often resistant and are threatened with violence and death. Also, there is solid evidence that children socialized very early in life into believing sex with adults is normal still recognize it as harmful and try to escape the abuse when given the opportunity.

      Coming from the west or anywhere else, this is wrong.

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    4. If it was really just a superstition about "ingesting strength" then the elders could just jack off into a bowl...there would be no need reasonf or children to perform oral sex. Come ON man.

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    5. Why is it "important" not to use our own perspective to judge this practice? I can certainly comprehend it within the context of their beliefs... but their beliefs are patently nonsense. We know that boys don't need to consume the semen of older men in order to become men themselves. Giving these people a free pass just because they aren't "Western" is paternalistic and condescending. Sorry, but it's time to grow up and realize that not all cultures are equal or automatically exempt from criticism simply because they're "different".

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  3. para nosotros eso es mal visto pero los occidentales nos asustamos de lo que vemos y no nos asustamos de matar a nuestros propios hijos de manera deliberada, sí, hablo de los abortos.

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  4. I'm an cultural anthropologist studying among other things the sambia in Papua-Neuguinea . They have no comparable word for pedophilia or homosexuality. Pedophilia does not exist in this tribe. All children have to go through this because this is the only way to become a fertile grown-up. It's very important to them and nothing reprehensible. You can't compare our cultural beliefs to theirs. Be more open and cultural relativistic. They don't possibly also understand our christian monotheism or the fact we are grown up with the age of 18 although women can giving birth to children with the age of 13 or 14. We have to accept theit culture and if you read Gilbert Herdts research results you will see, that the act of giving semen to younger boys is nothing disturbin to them.

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    1. If that were the case, why not give them cups of semen rather than have them 'drink from the source'?

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    2. Why don't you create cups in a place where advance technology didn't exist.

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    3. MaryCherry Cap,

      Pointing to cultural differences is in no way an inherent defense of these acts. There is no reason to expect that just because a culture deviates from what is considered normative, that it is therefor benign or valid. A culture does not have to develop words for a concept in order for the concept to be valid and relevant. There is solid evidence that even when very young children are socialized into believing that sex with adults is normal, that they still often recognize it as harmful, and try to escape it when possible.

      Further, if you read Herdt's research, what you'll actually find is that those forced into this cult (Herdt's word) behavior are constantly under the threat of death and torture if they do not comply. Herdt does not share your rosy picture of this situation.

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    4. There are certain activities which should be considered universally wrong regardless of the culture. Cannibalism is one example. Sexually abusing children is another.

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  7. Well, maybe its time that their government give them access to education, because education about how the world and the human body really functions are essential for them to understand that their traditions are totally pointless. Also teaching basic, international standard human rights would soon improve the boys situation. Ignorance gives birth to the most grotesque delusions practiced by many uneducated peoples. And please, skip the relativistic nonsensce. There are actually rules of conduct that most countreis have signed. They should include all people. also tribal peoples. If we just referred to tradition to defend the most grotesque customs than we would still have slaves and burned witches.

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    1. here it is again... whites trying to educate a culture the have nothing to do with

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    2. Mason, human physiology isn't culturally dependent. We are quite sure by now that consuming the semen of an adult male isn't required for a child to become a man. What's wrong with providing universally-applicable scientific knowledge? Or do you just have a problem with white people for emotional reasons?

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  8. I must say some anthropologists are like the Nazi doctor Mengele, they do not care about the suffering among the people they study, They are just interested in keeping old harmful traditions to be able to study them and making a carrieer. Maybe it is more exciting to study boys in seclusion, having to swallow sperm, than watching ordinary children in an ordinary school.

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    1. I must also say that your bigoted characteristics is an act of American Hegemony. Thanks for proving that Americans are bigoted people.

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    2. Yes, I will gladly admit that we are "bigoted" against cultures that force children to perform fellacio on older men regardless of their reason for doing it. As many other people have pointed out, if this ritual was simply about consuming the semen then they could find a way to do it without the fellatio. Forget cups; even the men using their own hands to "produce" and "distribute" their "man-making juice" would be better than forcing those little boys to do what they make them do.

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  9. To understand this - you must forget all you learn from past. This seremonies has been going for many hundred years - before the words Pedo** og Homo** was made. If you tell this people your rules, they will think you are mad!.. And - its not only in Papua, this have also been practiced in many other parts of the old world linke in Vanatu and other Melanesian islands.
    Deacon (1934):

    "Among the Big Nambas, as in North Raga, homosexual practices between men are very highly developed. Every chief has a number of boy-lovers, and it is said that some men are so completely homosexual in their affections, that they seldom have intercourse with their wives, preferring to go with their boys[56]. Up to the time that a boy assumes the bark-belt, the badge of the adult male, he should not take a boy-lover, but himself plays this rôle to some older man." and
    " The reason, or rather the rationalization, which the natives put forward for their homosexual practises is that the boy-lover's male organ is caused to grow strong and large by the homosexual acts of his "husband". This growth of the penis is supposed to be complete by the time that the bark-belt is assumed. […] The next day a great feast is celebrated. The novices are led forth from the ghamal bagho, their fathers pay the guardians, and each lad now purchases his newly-won penis-sheath from his maternal uncle. It is important to notice that the boy himself, not his father, makes payment for this. He does not acquire the bark-belt on this occasion, but at some later date (the length of the interval was not stated and probably varies) the erstwhile novice pays his dubut a few coco-nuts or some tobacco for it. Until this payment is made the dubut continues to have homosexual relations with the lad, but when once the latter has assumed his bark-belt this bond is severed and he, being now a "man", can take a boy-lover for himself".

    "On Malekula, the boy played the passive role in homosexual intercourse with a man "from the time when circumcision approached" to afterward, with abstinence in the seclusion period, which lasted thirty days (see also Bleibtrue-Ehrenberg, 1980:p96-8). The relation was said to be monogamous."

    In Santa Cruz Islands Equador: "A man may have sexual interaction with a young boy, often too young to be living in a men's house. Sexual interaction takes place in the bush, and incest taboo is observed."

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  10. You must understand that the practice did not randomly came from perverse ill-intention but rather came from beliefs moulded and passed down from generation to generation. This particular tribal group views this practice as a norm and is seen as a passage from youth to becoming a man. Also, your article failed to explain the significance of the practice from their perspective. To simply judge the practice and label it "disgusting" insults the beliefs of these people. Also, your article projects this particular tribal group as people who has little to no morals which is saddening. Not having the same beliefs, values and practices and failing to comprehend them does not automatically make the said group as rapists and pedophiles. Making claims while using your own morals & values and projecting them to a group of people from a different bearing and environment does not make a strong argument.

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    1. They are rapists. If it happened to your children, you would consider it rape.

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    2. If it did happen to my children I will not call it rape. Besides why don't you try go to another country with different laws from where you currently live in - would you obey their laws or not?

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    3. I wouldn't go to a country where raping young boys was not only legal but required. In fact, I would actively campaign against such a country just like people campaign against countries where homosexuals are executed simply for being homosexual or countries that deny women equal rights.

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  11. So at what point do they start having sex with females because obviously children don't come from men?

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    1. So at what point would you consider that this blog is not even a legitimate source for your intensive research about Sambia Tribe?

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    2. So at what point will you stop excusing child rape just because the perpetrators aren't white and don't possess modern technology?

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  12. And what happens if the boys or men are found performing these sexual acts outside of the boundaries of the ritual? Are they punished or is it acceptable?

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  13. And what happens if the boys or men are found performing these sexual acts outside of the boundaries of the ritual? Are they punished or is it acceptable?

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    1. I have a sneaking suspicion that they find a way to excuse it... especially if the older man being "serviced" is a powerful member of the tribe.

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  14. Cultural awareness begins by understanding that the rules in your own culture do not apply to all cultures. You make it sound as if these boys are victims, but the ritual is a loving ceremony that is meant to ensure that the boy grows into a strong man. The only reason that it is "disgusting" to you is because you were reared to believe that it is disgusting. You were not born with these ideas, they were shaped by your society and your culture. In the same way, these boys were reared to look forward to the ceremony as a sign that they are becoming men and that they are loved by their tribe who cares about their future. Trust me, you do not find this any more odd than the Symbian folk would find your belief in the sky God that came to earth, died, rose again after 3 days, and then flew back to the sky.

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    1. From your own perspective, yes. But for them it isn't. Therefore "They rape kids" argument is invalid.

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    2. Sooooo, let me get this straight, Mavros. Following your thesis, any act of barbarism is okie doke if the people who practice it think it so. By your estimation, slavery in the US would still be OK with you. Bride burning in India is JUST FINE. Female genital mutilation and rape is a sign of love. Chopping people's hands off for minor discretions in the Middle East is just a little love tap. It's all good to you, as long as the victim doesn't know that they're a victim. What hogwash.

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    4. Mirabelle, exactly! We're not talking about fasting or praying 5 times a day towards Mecca here. This is CHILD RAPE. Some things are just universally wrong for human beings to do to one another. It doesn't matter what culture they come from.

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  16. That's ignorant Glenda. Just because the tribe doesn't find it taboo, doesn't make it a moral act. I don't doubt that they believe its a good thing, but its really just some nasty gross ritual passed down the generations. It almost definitely originated with some creepy freak who liked kids to blow him... I'm not using any guideline outside of innate sense of would I want someone to make me do it. Just as people are brainwashed into thinking other races are subhuman. It's just bred of ignorance.

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    1. Funny! I am an atheist, and just by observing your religion I would apparently and undoubtedly say that your belief is irrational and also spread ignorance.

      Therefore a massive indoctrination of atheism is the only solution. Now tell me, do you want me to force my belief into you?

      If you say no, then therefore you make a contradiction to your claim which makes you completely BIGOTED.

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    2. So, basically, you're using this tribe and its disgusting belief system to spew your vitrol for god believers and support your own acceptance of pedophilia. CHILD RAPER.

      Even animals don't behave in this manner. I'm inclined to believe you are a PEDOPHILE.

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  18. This cannot be justified in anyway. Yes, it's true to them they don't see it as wrong or pedophilia, the reality is that it is just that! Just because its not wrong to them, doesn't mean it isn't.
    A pedophile may have loving feelings towards the child and generally care about them, and to them they do not see it as bad, but that does not make it right!

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  19. It's easy to see that you like calling people bigots. It kind of also applies to you though, because of how often you're saying it, going out of your way to comment something argumentative to every single comment. I'm pretty sure all that overreaction isn't necessary.. Not only that, but apparently you support pedophilia because of your level of butthurt. Bravo, random guy that contributes to making atheists look like monsters. I don't like being associated with people that argue everything under the sun like you..

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  20. This is disgusting doing any research shows this Is forced rape,! LOVING??? No way. Pedophiles need not comment because obviously your biased and using a sick tradition of uneducated people's will never justify your brain sickness. *opinion rapists of children should be killed, I agree that this tradition was the creation of a rapist with power to control the women and children around him. Say what you will rapist and pedophile sympathizers I will not respond to your sick brain farts, you should also be killed. *merica

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  21. Hey.l like chicken soup and anyone who dosen't is a sick wiedo an should be sent off to Siberia or just simply annihilated.
    Oh and god bless America cos we know EVERYTHING bout EVERYTHING we are not biggoted were just born with knowledge and 'natural' understanding.

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    1. If you can equate liking chicken soup with raping young boys then maybe you SHOULD be sent to Siberia, and if you think pointing out that child rape is wrong no matter who is doing it or where they live is somehow "bigoted" then maybe you should stay there.

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  22. An place we should invade, a culture worth destroying!!!!!!!!!! Why didn't Bush or Obama ever speak out on this disgust?? How can their government let this continue...

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