Changes in Attitudes Beliefs and Practices Regarding Gender

When schooling started in the early 1960s and Christianization followed shortly thereafter, relationships between the sexes began to change. Boys and girls thrown together in residential schools without the supervision of parents developed crushes on each other, and if not reciprocated there have been cases of suicide. As individuals have moved into positions with the government or gone to the cities to seek wage work, they are exposed to members of the opposite sex from other ethnic groups, which have resulted in interethnic marriages. Young men with jobs will now make up the whole brideprice for a fiancée, rather than expecting their family to do so as in the past, or they will make major contributions to it. Girls and women are more confident and unrestrained in their relations with men. A great deal of intercourse now occurs prior to or outside marriage. This has also resulted in a growing number of illegitimate pregnancies. Children of such relationships are frequently raised by the mother of the woman, and her daughter then goes back to the towns and cities to work. Rape has now occurred within the Rungus community, and women have been subjected to rape by members of other ethnic groups as they go to work outside their villages.

Men have taken a larger role in the political arena, leaving their wives to undertake more work in the swid-dens and in the development of plantations of coconut and rubber. Some women have also taken to traveling around to other villages and ethnic groups on trading expeditions which traditionally was only done by men. Women are now wearing trousers, particularly when working in the plantations and clearing fields. Little of the original dress is left, with the exception of beads. Only the older men now wear headcloths.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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