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Labor migration puts these men in social contexts that encourage infidelity. Interventions that promote fidelity will fail in the absence of a social and economic infrastructure that supports fidelity. Thus, engaging in extramarital sexual relations forsakes or violates this bond. My case study of the Huli in Papua New Guinea shows the problems that are associated with uncritically advocating and expecting marital fidelity.
Findings from the study included:. Huli men view extramarital sexual relations more as a potential transgression against other men and less as a transgression against their wives or the marital bond. Most Huli men do not see sexual fidelity as necessary for having a successful and happy marriage, and they assert that seeking out alternative sexual partners is appropriate at some junctures during the course of a marriage.
With a population of almost 6 million, Papua New Guinea occupies the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and some surrounding smaller islands. It gained independence from Australia in , and although 1 of the official national languages is English, it is home to more than indigenous languages. Recent economic decline and deterioration in the quality of governance has resulted in worsening health indicators.
This research was conducted in the small rural town of Tari, Southern Highlands Province, among the Huli, a cultural group of approximately individuals. Most Huli are still primarily subsistence horticulturalists; however, cash is required for school fees, basic household goods, and some food staples.
Because little wage or salaried labor is available in Tari, most people make money by selling coffee and other agricultural produce. Remittances from family members who work outside of Tari also are important. In , when this study was conducted, the Papua New Guinea currency had undergone a precipitous decline and was worth one third of its value 10 years earlier.