Courtship and Marriage

Young people are generally matched for marriage long before they reach adulthood. Young girls are sometimes married to much older men. If the girl dislikes the assigned partner, she is seldom forced into the union.

There is no clear dictum concerning postmarital residence; it depends on the age of the marriage partners and their circumstances. A young married couple will most likely—in the context of the groom's brideservice—live with the family of the bride initially and later move next to the husband's family. If the marriage partners come from the same local group there is no noticeable residence distinction.

An in-law relationship functions as a source of social protection. A young man who does his brideservice is obliged to hunt for the bride's family, work in their garden, respect and fear his mother-in-law, and to adhere to many avoidance rules. But brideservice also gives him the confidence that he will be supported in situations of conflict and be supplied with food and tobacco.

Forced marriage as a result of abduction is highly spectacular as well as speculative. This practice has been explained as being due to the lack of women because of an imbalanced sex ratio in some villages. Reports of the numbers of abducted women among the Central Yanomami differ from less than 2% (Lizot, 1988) to 17% (Chagnon, 1990). This marriage practice is unknown in other Yanomami areas (Ales, 1984). Women are "stolen" in many different circumstances. They may have been seduced, deliberately left to live with a lover, or have refused to marry a man and were unable to overcome the will of their family. Also a woman is sometimes considered to be "stolen" when she comes from another village and relations between her home and her present village are no longer peaceful. Occasionally, she may have been abducted forcefully. But even under these conditions, the victim will find a way to return to her home groups if she does not want to stay. If she stays, she subsequently accepts the seizure. In essence, the capture of women is an institutionalized form of marriage for the Yanomami. It mainly represents a union for which no brideservice has been performed for the woman's family and group. Older women, who are almost invariably widows, can get married without the groom having to fulfill family obligations, but brideservice is essential to marry a young woman.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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