I will start by adding that visiting the Sambia people of Papua New Guinea is not on a YPT itinerary, their practices though do shed a very interesting light on the tribal culture of Papua New Guinea. So, who are the Semen Tribe of Papua New Guinea?
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The Sambia People
The Sambia people who’s speakers number less than 2000 are a semi-contacted tribe that are resident in central New Guinea near Mount Sisa. Like many tribes of Papua New Guinea they still lead a very tribal life and were it not for their initiation ceremonies for young males, most would not have heard of them.
And as for this initiation? Well this is why they are known as the semen tribe! It involves essentially the ingestion of the semen of older tribal leaders by the young of tribe, which starts at 7 years old, not to mention a bunch of other fairly brutal stuff, which obviously leads to the question, why?
The beliefs of the semen tribe of Papua New Guinea
A rite of passage denoting a bots passage from boyhood to adulthood it consists of 6 stages, which can take anywhere from 10-15 years to complete.
Throughout most of the 6 stages, the act of having a stick of cane inserted into the nostrils and the performance of fellatio are integral to the process of becoming a man.
These two practices have been described as inhumane, homosexual and child abuse, with such actions meaning prison in most countries, a topic we will delve into later. For now though big question is why would they do this?
In short men are viewed as being born with the devil of woman around them, kind of like an evil spirit. They are thus removed from women at a young age in order to fix them. Women bleed, so men need bloodletting, which is the sticks going up their noses, while the fellatio element is because the semen of the man posses the “masculine spirit”. Therefore if they inject the semen, they will become proper men.
After the ceremony is complete the men then get married and live heterosexual lifestyles, with the exception that they will now be the ones receiving rather than giving the fellatio.
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Should the semen ingesting tribe of Papua New Guinea be banned?
And herein lies the difficult if not interesting anthropological question. Of course we view this as barbaric from our western standpoint, but it is also the western view that cultures should be left to their own devices, or at least it certainly used to be.
The question here though is exactly where do we draw the line?
You can check out the many tribes of Papua New Guinea on our Goroka Tour.