Into Arnhem Land

Batumbil was born in 1956 in a community run by Methodist missionaries on Elcho Island, just off the northern coast of Arnhem Land. Her father had eight wives. Soon after birth, she was promised to a man, in traditional Yolngu fashion, and at age 15 was married. Her husband was more than 20 years older. He died in 2000.

From an account in National Geographic of a remote Aboriginal community in Australia. I was not surprised to see that there was polygyny – it is common enough, especially in the tropics. But I wasn’t aware how much marriage also involved old husband and young wife.


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