Featured: Alorese, Adjeh, Balinese, Batak, Bawean, Belu, Bonerate, Dayak, Dusun, Edopi, Endeh, Engano Island, Iban, Javanese, Kayans, Ketengban, Minangkabau, Mentawaians, Moni, Mpur, Murungs, Ngada, Sula Island, Sulanese, Sundanese, Tobaru, Tobelorese, Toradja, Orang Rimba
*** Please note that tentative translations of Dutch passages are offered by the compiler in accompanying footnotes ***
Though not introducing original material, Van
Praag () offers a convenient
review of Indonesian courtship and sexuality as observed by the Dutch
(henceforward “vP”). A further overview is found in Mallinckrodt (I, p412ff, cit. infra). Riedel (1885, 1886a,b)
found that premarital sexual freedom was marked for a range of societies.
1889:p435-60), who offers a rich
discussion of customs associated with the premarital dyad and sexuality,
observes that this freedom would be only partially prevalent (1889:p440-1,
443-4; cf. Koloniaal Instituut te
for instance, the young girl is, “van kinds af gewoon de grootste
onzedelijkheid, hetzij van vader of moeder, hetzij van broeders of zusters
rondom zich te zien en daardoor overprikkeld, geeft zich, nauwelijks de
schooltucht ontwassen en tot maagd gerijpt, steeds over aan haar prikkel tot
zinnelijken lust en werpt zich in de armen van den eersten den besten
jongeling, die haar bevalt, om aan die neiging te voldoen”
(Van Hoëvell, 1875:p126-8).
notes that Amahei (south coast of
In selected societies, artificial defloration (“stupratio officialis”, officium deflorationis) would have been customary (Wilken, p441 and refs.)
Ploß (Die Frau, I) learned from Van den Burg that in the Dutch East Indies, “children surrender themselves to the sexual passions even before maturity, and coitus between brothers and sisters aged 5 to 6 is no rarity”. This seems to be interesting given the observation that girls are “[…] often betrothed at birth and married at six [years?], although they remain with their parents” (Wilken, as cited by Sumner, 1906:p383); the custom, however was declining at the time of writing. Smith and Wiswell (1982:p69-73) sketch a childhood sexuality in Suye Mura characterisable as expressive and joking. Vatter (1932:p122):
“[…] eine besondere Belehrung über sexuelle Dinge scheint nicht stattzufinden. Vorzeitiger Geschlechtsverkehr under Kinderen soll selten sein; sexuelle Unarten zwischen kleinen Jungen haben wir gelegentlich beobachtet, doch wurden sie ihnen, vielleicht mit Rücksicht auf unsere Anwesenheit, von älteren Kinderen oder Erwachsenen verwiesen”.
· Some material would have been offered in unpublished notes by Kennedy according to HRAF listing.
Male Age Stratified Patterns
Its perverse nature being debated,
institutional prostitution of 9 to 12-year-old boys was prevalent among the Lampong
Chabot (1950:p156) speaks about a dance titled masri in which boys of 8-12 years perform dances for apparently highly enthusiastic men. “De sexuele prikkel, die van de combinatie van vers, rhythme en de half als vrouw verklede jongetjes uitgaat is de hoofdzaak”. The dance was temporarily forbidden by the Government.
states that in the Ponorogo area of
“Warok [students of Ki Ageng Kutu, the court poet of the last king of the Majapahit kingdom, Bra Kertabumi,in the fifteenth century] were said to follow a strict regime of ascetic discipline, one of the parguron’s rules being that they were forbidden to have sexual intercourse with women. This prohibition was predicated on the belief that the resulting loss of sperm would deplete their supernatural powers. To aid them in their endeavour, each warok enlisted the aid of a young boy known as a gemblak who acted as a “substitute” woman. […]As a 'substitute' for a wife the warok chose a beautiful young boy, who acted as his companion as well as a jatilan dancer in his reog troupe. The beauty of the gemblak, in the eyes of the warok, came from their androgynous like features, grace, and poise. The boy was chosen from a neighbouring area and usually aged between eight and sixteen years. The warok would send a delegation to the home of the boy's parents to ‘propose’, the patterns of ritualised speech employed being very similar to that used in proposals for heterosexual weddings. […] Warok are reputed to use magical powers obtained through extended periods of fasting to 'seduce' [ merayu] reluctant gemblak. […] For many young boys, being a gemblak was accepted as a certain stage in the journey to manhood and the majority of gemblak stayed with their warok until their late teens” (Wilson).
“Gemblak help the warok maintain the state of abstinence by providing companionship and a kind of woman substitute. For this reason, gemblak are selected for their grace, pose and beauty. While, publicly, sexual activity between warok and gemblak is not condoned, some petting and kissing is allowed. There is usually an intense relationship between warok and gemblak and there have been many instances when different warok have fought one another over the possession of their favorite gemblak. […] The warok’s relationship with their gemblak companions is amplified by their 'sexual games' on the one hand, and moderated, in the end, by professed abstinence”.
While the relationship was said to be innocent (as elderly say, “with gemblak the most that can happen is a bit of harmless kissing and cuddling. But close association with women will definitely lead to sexual intercourse which will result in the warok losing his powers”), local government regarded the warok/gemblak relationship as “morally offensive and in conflict with the ‘national personality’ [kepribadian bangsa]. The relationship is deemed to be unacceptable because it is considered to be nothing more than ‘socialised homosexuality’, and a potential threat to public order”.
Oetomo, one of the leading gay-rights
“I think what
they do sexually, we have to call homosexual acts. This is widely known all
over Java. Anybody who is in touch with the traditional way of life in
Ponorogo, knows that there are these older men called warok who, instead of
having sex with their wives, have sex with younger boys - eight to fourteen,
fifteen - and they do that as part of looking for prowess. Whether we can
call them a homosexual community is questionable. They don’t call themselves
homosexuals; they don’t identify themselves as homosexuals, such as one finds
in the West or in modern
in a study of
“All of the ‘butch’ respondents felt a same sex attraction from an early age, one as young as four. This woman felt a strong sense of love and mutual responsibility for a kindergarten friend who was always “giving me food and not wanting to see me sick, we were always together”. The ‘butch’ respondents indicate they preferred girls to boys in an emotional sense but “I did not know what it was, actually I didn’t tell anyone because I feared my parents would find out. When I entered junior high I learnt the name, lesbian”. Despite not knowing what her sexuality was or what it would be perceived as, she already had a developed notion that it was bad due to a large extent to an absence of positive role models in her immediate environment and in the media [...]”.
In the “Indian
Archipelo”, marriage could take place at puberty (Wilken, 1886:p141, 143),
including cases concerned with (elaborate) additional regulations, and of
child marriage and betrothal (detailed and referenced in ibid.,
p161-7). Early betrothal before
1900 used to be fairly common in
Some further data are
collected in Lebar (1972).
The Bisaya (
controlled their children’s marriage arrangements in some parts of
The contemporary pattern
of premarital courtship on
marriage occurred but generally in the mitigated form of a kind of betrothal (kawin
gantung). Unlike its British
counterpart, the Dutch colonial government did not take legal action
regarding child marriage.
According to ECPAT, the age of consent is 15 years for girls and 18 years for homosexual relations.
The impact of Dutch mores on Indonesian sexual pedagogies has not been studied. However, it is learned that the Dutch warned the Indonesian mother for “ontegenzeggelijk slechte gewoonten” [irrefutably bad habits] as caused by sibling co-sleeping, and by nursemaids.
Pangkahila and Pangkahila (1997): “Sexual exploration and sex rehearsal play are common among children as a natural part of their psychosexual development. However, many parents are afraid of such behavior, believing that it results in sexual abnormalities. […] Homoerotic or homosexual activities are not common among Indonesian children, although some sexual exploration involving exhibiting the genitals is known to occur”. [In his intimate study of Indonesian homosexual development, Howard (1996) did not cover, or does not mention, childhood (homo-)sexual behaviour, nor do autobiographical accounts]. “School curricula do not offer students any education on sexual topics or issues”. Furthermore, “[s]ex education is not generally given at schools and parents are reluctant to talk about sex to their children“.
The use of courtship dwellings is only occasionally mentioned.
Alorese, Adjeh, Balinese, Batak, Bawean, Belu, Bonerate, Dayak, Dusun, Edopi, Endeh, Engano Island, Iban, Javanese, Kayans, Ketengban, Mentawaians, Moni, Mpur, Murungs, Ngada, Sula Island, Sundanese, Tobelorese, Toradja, , Orang Rimba
D. F., Growing Up Sexually.
Last revised: Apr 2005
Van Praag, S. () Sexualiteit en Huwelijk bij de Volkeren der Aarde. Amsterdam: De Gulden Ster [Dutch]
Riedel, J. G. F. (1885a) The island of Flores, Rev Coloniale Int, I, p67-8; Riedel, J. G. F. (1885b) The Sawu group, Rev Coloniale Int, I, p305; Riedel, J. G. F. (1886) De Sluik- en Kroesharige Rassen tusschen Selebes en Papua. The Hague [Holland]: Martinus Nijhoff, p41-2, 67, 370, et passim [Dutch]; Riedel, J. G. F., Die Landschaft Dawan oder West-Timor, Deutsche Geograph Blätt X, p229. Cf. Wilken (1889:p436-8), cit. infra
 Wilken, G. A. (1883a) Over de verwantschap en het huwelijks- en erfrecht bij de volken van het Maleische ras, De Indische Gids [Dutch] 5,I:656-764 [Verspreide Geschriften, I, p287-406]; Wilken, G. A. (1883b) Over de Verwantschap en het Huwelijks- en Erfrecht bij de Volken van het Maleische Ras. Amsterdam
 Wilken, G. A. (1886) Plechtigheden en gebruiken bij verlovingen en huwelijken bij de volken van den Indischen archipel, Bijdragen Taal-, Land-, & Volkenk Nederlansch-Indie [Holland] XXXV:140-219
 Wilken, G. A. (1889) Plechtigheden en gebruiken bij verlovingen en huwelijken bij de volken van den Indischen archipel, Bijdragen Taal-, Land-, & Volkenk Nederlansch-Indie [Holland] XXXVIII:380-460. Both articles (1886, 1889) reprinted in Ossenbruggen, F. D. van (Ed., 1912) De Verspreide Geschriften van Prof. Dr. G. A. Wilken. Semarang, Soerabaja, The Hague: G. C. T. Van Dorp & Co. Vol. I, p447-609
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 Darwin, M., Faturochman, B., Dyah Putranti, S. & Purwatiningsih, I. (nd) Male and Female Genital Cutting among Yogyakartans and Medurans. Center for Population and Policy Studies (CPPS), Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia.Undated paper at http://demography.anu.edu.au/G&SH/reports/Indo-genital-cutting.pdf
 The young girl “from childhood on being accustomed to the greatest immorality, as is being witnessed from the example of either father or mother, or brothers or sisters, and barely having outgrown scholastic duty and ripened into maidenhood, will surrender herself to the call of sensual lust and to this end will throw herself in the arms of any first youth that may please her” [DJ].
 Wilken; Van Hoëvell, G. W. W. C. (1875) Ambon en Meer Bepaaldelijk de Oeliasers. Dordrecht [Holland]: Blussé en Van Braam [Dutch]
Tijdschr v Ind T L Vk [Holland] 22, p236-8
 Sumner, W. G. (1906) Folkways. Boston [etc.]: Ginn & Co.
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 Kennedy, R. (1949-50) Field Notes on Indonesia. New Haven: HRAF. Relevant pages include p256, 266 (South Celebes), 379-80 (Ambon and Ceram), and p617, 221, 256, 321 (West Borneo)
 Cf. discussion in GUS Vol. II, §220.127.116.11
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 Meyer, Über die Perforation des Penis bei den Malayen, Mitth. Athropol Ges Wien 7,9
 Kruyt, J. A. (1877) Atjeh en de Atjehers. Leiden [Holland]: G. Kolff. Also cited by Wilken (1889:p460), op.cit.
 That is, “youthful dancing lads, sedatti’s, [being] children aged nine to twelve years, most probably originating from Nias, who, attractively dressed in silk and beautified with golden and silver arm- and foot straps, lighten up the men’s evenings and nights by song and dance. Most chiefs keep a number of such sedatti’s as a personal asset, and as a habit donate some of them to the folk of their remote pepper plantations for amusement sake [including] the rawest and most unnatural immorality” [DJ].,
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Jacobs, J. (1883) Eenigen Tijd onder de Baliërs. Batavia: Kolff. As cited by Van Praag, p281: “Paederastie (mĕnjélit) wordt op geheel Bali in erge mate bedreven en evenmin met den sluier der geheimzinnigheid bedekt” [“Pederasty (mĕnjélit) is practiced on the entirety of Bali to a considerable extent and it is not veiled in secrecy either”].
 Van Eck, R. [1878-1880] Schetsen van het Eiland Bali. Tijdschrift voor Nederlandsch-Indië [Dutch]; NS jrg. 7  - 9 . Zaltbommel
 Duff-Cooper, A. (1985) Notes about some Balinese ideas and practices connceted with sex from Western Lombok, Anthropos 80,4/6:403-19
 Chabot, H. Th. (1950) Verwantschap, Stand en Sexe in Zuid-Celebes. Groningen/Djakarta: J. B. Wolters [Dutch]
 “The sexual stimulus, originating from a combination of verse, rhythm, and the little boys being partially dressed as women, is the main attraction”.
 Williams, W. L. (1990) Indonesia, in Dynes, W. R. (Ed.) Encyclopedia of Homosexuality. New York & London: Garland Publ. Inc. Vol I, p597-9
 Wilson, I. D. (1999) Reog Ponorogo: Spirituality, Sexuality, and Power in a Javanese Performance Tradition, Intersections 2, May; Permadi (1991) Seks dan kebathinan, Prisma (7):61-65
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J.(1999b)Dédé Oetomo Talks on Reyog Ponorogo, Intersections 2, May Cf. Oetomo, D. & Emond, B. ([?])
Homoseksualita di Indonesia, Prisma
[Indonesia]. 1991 transl. [from the Bahasa Indonesia] “Homosexuality in
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 Webster, Tracy L Wright (2004) Beyond the ‘closet’: the voices of lesbian women in yogyakarta suara Lesbi di yogyakarta. Yogyakarta. paragr: '3.2 Perceived Influences on Sexual Identity Development'
 The latter would be prevalent in Lampong districts, Bali, Batak, Sumatra, Malay, Adjeh, Sundanese, etc.
 Westermarck, E. () The History of Human Marriage. London: MacMillan. 3rd ed., p214n8
Das Ausland, 1881, p569; Vollenhoven, C. van (1923) Javaansch Adatrecht. Leiden: Brill [Dutch], p66
 Riedel, p21
De Wetering, F. H. (1926) De Savoeneezen, , Bijdragen […] 82:485-575, at p495-6. A girl is not required to be intacta.
 E.g., Jacobs, J. & Meijer, J. J. (1891) De Badoej’s. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, p73: “Ik heb onder deze meermalen meisjes ontmoet, die naar schatting nauwelijks 10 à 11 jaar oud, en wat lichaamsontwikkeling aangaat nog volkomen kind en toch reeds gehuwd waren. Het meisje wordt van kind onmiddellijk vrouw en dikwijls moeder” ["I have repeatedly met girls, of a estimated mere age of 10 or 11 years, and entirely prepubescent as is concerned somatic development and nonetheless married already. The girl at once becomes a woman, and often a mother” [DJ]. Jacobs denies the existence of child marriage among the Badoejs (p75).
 Hickson, p270; Wilken, in Bijdragen […] I, p161-7
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Schadee, M. C. (1909) Het familieleven en familierecht der Dayaks van Londak en Tajan, Bijdragen […] 63:390-485, at p421, 423-4; Van Praag, p393
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 See Pollard, F. H. (1933) The Muruts of Sarawak, Sarawak Museum J 4:139-55, especially p151-4; Sandin, B. & Siran, B. (1963) A Murut wedding in Kalimantan, Sarawak Museum J 11:88-93
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 Ford, N., Siregar, K., Ngatimin, R. & Maidin, A. (1997) The hidden dimension: sexuality and responding to the threat of HIV/AIDS in South Sulawesi, Indonesia, Health & Place 3,4:249-58
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 E.g., Pigeaud, J. J. (1896) Iets over Kinderopvoeding: Raadgevingen voor Moeders in Indië. Samarang: Van Dorp & Co., p2, 14 [Dutch]
 Pangkahila, W. & Pangkahila, J. A. (1997) Indonesia, in Francoeur, R. T. (Ed.-in-chief) The International Encyclopedia of Sexuality. New York: Continuum. Vol. 1. Quoted from the online edition
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