#2. For Various African Tribes, Female Puberty Means House Arrest
At this point in the list, you have to wonder whether the boys or girls have it worse in these coming-of-age rituals. We can say that while the boys' rituals are often brutally dangerous, at least there is an element of badassery to them. The girls often just get locked up.
"You have been found guilty of felony possession of a vagina."
For instance, in the Baganda tribe of Uganda, girls who go through their first menstrual cycle can expect to have about as good a time of it as Carrie. It's believed that menstruation is the result of an invisible (and apparently pleasureless) interaction with a ghostly spirit. As soon as they're blessed with the first of what will become a monthly ghost visitation, the girls are locked away in a shack for two weeks, during which time they're not allowed to handle food and their grandparents educate them on sexual matters, which we're sure isn't at all an awkward experience.
Later, when the women find mates and give birth, they are secluded again for as long as 18 months to raise the baby alone, just in case they had any wise ideas about getting pregnant again. Hopefully they have Sudoku.
"What's a six-letter word for screwed from birth?"
Meanwhile, on Okrika Island, Nigeria, young females learn about the responsibilities of womanhood through the enlightening power of imprisonment and ritual humiliation. Girls who are eligible for the ritual (only virgins need apply) have their legs shackled to restrict movement, at which point they are isolated in a room in their parents' house for three weeks. Then, when they are good and stir-crazy, they are wrapped up in huge cloth skirts so that they can dance and sit in the market square in booths known as the "house of memories" decorated by the participants' families, with happy photographs of the very people who just shackled them in a room for nearly a month.
Then, on the final day of the ceremony, the girls (whose feet are still shackled together) are forced to run away from a bunch of men who chase them and hit them with sticks, allegedly to beat the water spirits out of them so that they can be free to start a family with a human. Of course, after weeks of constant trauma, there's probably nothing they're less interested in doing anyway.
#1. The Native American Trial of Horrors
The Mandan tribe really didn't mess around when it came to proving their manhood. Their rite of passage, called the okipa ceremony, basically came about when a bunch of them sat down to brainstorm the most horrible things that they could possibly do to a person.
First, the young men weren't allowed to eat, drink or sleep for four days, after which they had a friendly-sounding celebration called the bison dance. When the dance ended, that's when they had wooden poles driven through their flesh and were suspended screaming from the ceiling until they passed out, which for us would have been the moment that we heard about it happening to somebody else.
"OK, I'm unconscious."
"We haven't even put the hooks in yet."
It was only when the young warriors fainted that they were allowed to come down from the rafters. When they awoke, it was seen as a sign that they had gained approval from the spirits, and they were from that moment men. And that's when they had both of their pinkie fingers chopped off and were made to run around the camp a few times while still impaled with wooden rods and spurting fountains of blood from their hands.
It's the worst Super Soaker fight ever.
Having already won the spirits' approval, we have to assume that they just did this part for shits and giggles. And come to think of it ... we're pretty sure that's why all of these ceremonies existed.
For more terrifying rituals from around the world, check out The 5 Creepiest Death Rituals From Around the World and 5 Cultures With the Most WTF Wedding Rituals.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out The 5 Most Offensive Attempts to Cash in on Hurricane Sandy.