Eipo - Marriage and Family

Marriage. The Eipo term ka signifies a marriageable clan, lineage, or partner; kaib means to secure a marriageable partner and is the term for arranging a marriage. This form is seen as ideal, but in reality it does not occur too often because both the bride and groom have the right to reject the arrangement and because love affairs are quite common. The latter may lead either directly to marriage or to the man's abducting the consenting woman from her husband, to whom she is often married as a second wife. Rather than a payment of bride-price there is a system of mutual exchange of gifts: the groom's side and that of the bride hand over substantial valuables, shell and feather decorations, tools, etc. With a few Exceptions, particularly in young couples, virilocality is the rule. In the 1970s 12 percent of the men lived in polygynous Marriages, all with two wives, except for one man who had three. Because of the facultative polygyny and the imbalanced sex ratio (133 for all age groups, a result of preferential female infanticide, which is one of the mechanisms controlling Population size), approximately 5 percent of all men must live Permanently without a spouse, whereas virtually all sexually active and/or physically healthy women are married. In one case, a woman was "officially" living with two brothers. Whether such polyandrous settings are institutionalized Marriages or ad-hoc solutions is unknown. Premarital sexual intercourse is allowed. Fidelity is expected of married persons but not always observed. Separation, divorce, and remarriage occur frequently.

Domestic Unit. A family house is usually occupied by a woman, her husband (who may at times, however, eat and sleep in the men's house), her daughters, her sons younger than about 13 years old, and unmarried or elderly relatives. The confined space is often also shared with a dog or a smaller pig or two. Husband and wife may work together, and the gardens and adjacent areas are preferred places for sexual intercourse.

Inheritance. Inheritance is through the patriline. Tools, body decorations, and the like may also be given to other Persons, especially if the deceased was unmarried.

Socialization. Infants grow up in an emotionally protective environment with much body contact, especially with their mothers, and are breast-fed on demand. Birth intervals are at least three years, but child spacing will probably decrease in the course of acculturation. Infants receive a variety of social, emotional, and intellectual stimuli as they frequently interact with various persons of different ages and sexes. The principle of granting all of a child's wishes is gradually replaced by educational and economic demands. More than actual corporeal punishment, the threat of it keeps children fairly well disciplined. Girls help with various domestic duties earlier than do boys. Beyond the age of about 3 years, socialization takes place more and more in peer groups. In the last one or two decades mission schools have introduced hitherto-unknown formal education, and they are taking over part of the Socialization process.

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