By Jill E. Korbin
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Among the Bena Bena, young boys are sometimes gi\'en sti, ks and encouraged to chase and beat girls, the adults urging them to "stick it up her vagina" or "go and hit her hard. " Both boys and girls are threatened "in fun" with axes and kni ves and they run crying in terror. Boys arc sometimes told they will ha ve their penes cut off (Langness 1972). T easing of and threats to children are commonplace throughou t much if not most of New Guinea, and e\'en when done in play can reduce the youngsters to tears: "Sometimes boys or men sit facing each other and exchange endless numbers of these sexual or personal insults.
32 CHILD ABUSE AND CULTURAL VALUES: NEW GUINEA 1976 Child l1bu#and ~kct: tiff family ami IN community. Cambridge: 8allinger. Herdt, Gilbert 1977 The individual in Sambia male initiation. D. di~sertation, Australian National University, Canberra. Hiatt, Lcs 1971 Secret pseudo-procre:uion rites among the .... ustra lian aborigin~ . In AntbropoJogy in Oceania, l-d. L. R. ,·fiatt and Chandra Jayawardcna. San Francisco: Chandler Publishing. p. '77 - 88. Hogbin, Ian 1963 KinsbipanJ marritJgt in (l Nrw Guirtm vilJugt.
Strathem 1972:44), The lIahita Arapcsh understand dearly that although cOJ1X>ral punishment is well within the bounds of responsible parenthood it can at times get out of control and can be exercised for the satisfaction of the parcm rather than for the good of the child (ruzin 1976: 161), precisely what seems [0 happen in many instances of child abuse in the U nited States. 1! cruel or abusi\'c [rcarmen( of children, perhaps partly because it happens so rarely. If such Ircatmenl does occur, a close relative usually intervenes, with the community sanctioning the intervention and shaming the culprit through gossip and a\'oidance, Although parents arc uni versally per~ ceived to have almost absolute authority over their children, the children are also regarded as belonging to the community, That children are so rarel y abus(:d is all the more remarkable given that traditional New Guineans were known to be exceptionally violence-prone (Berndt 1962 ; Glasse 1968; Langness 1971; 1\leggin 1977; Read 1955), In addition, parents, particularly fathers, had virtua lly unlimited authority over their own children and could, in principle, trear them any way they saw fit with little or no fear of outside interference OIher than gossip and shaming (Harth 1975; 147; Reay 1959;75: Tuzin 1976;161: Williams 19}O;91).