The Sambian people of Papua New Guinea practice one of the most bizarre cultures known to westernisation. A cultural anthropologist, Gilbert Herdt, has described their ritual act of initiation as “ritualised homosexuality.”
The Sambia people are a tribe of mountain-dwelling, hunting and horticultural people who inhabit the fringes of the Eastern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea, and are extensively described by American anthropologist, ‘Gilbert Herdt’. The Sambia are well known by cultural anthropologists for their acts of pedophilic “ritualized homosexuality” and semen ingestion practices with pubescent boys. In his studies of the Sambia, Herdt describes the people in light of their sexual culture and how their practices shape the masculinities of adolescent Sambia boys.
Rite of Passage
The full initiation is reported to start with members of the tribe being removed from their mothers at the age of seven or nine. This process is not always voluntary and can involve threats of death.
This process allows for the detachment of the boys from their mothers who it is believed has contaminated blood. Women are also said to possess powers (tingu) that make them easily manipulate men. The woman’s tingu is reinforced every time she undergoes her menstrual circle. As such, there is a need to deliver these boys via a blood-letting ceremony.
The blood-letting ceremony involves sticking long sticks up their nostrils to make them bleed, and therefore rid themselves of their mothers’ presence in them.
Once this is done, the boys are made to perform oral sex on the older ones which they do not stop until they take in the semen. Ingesting the semen will make them stronger. More so, they are kept aside for three years and maintain a strict diet to make them stronger. Defiance against this from the boys usually involves death.
Once they pass this stage, his father and kinsmen look for a wife for him. He has to wait until she has her first menstruation. While he awaits this, he is trained to disassociate himself from satisfying the woman fully because she might make him fall ill and die.
After he has relations with her, he undergoes another nose bleeding to purify himself of her illnesses.
It is only after she gives birth they stop this process and can be respected as warriors and full-grown men.
This tradition is kept as a secret by the male cult. Revealing it to his wife means castration and death.