Men are not allowed in that forest. Men are barred from entering a mangrove forest in Papua, Indonesia. Only women can enter the oyster collection in that forest. The name of the forest is Tonotivat. Which means ‘female forest’.
There are some rules for women to enter the forest. Here the women enter completely naked. The mangrove forest is spread over an area of about 8 hectares in the middle of Kampang Engros in Jaipur, the capital of Papua.
If a man peeks into that forest, he will be punished. However, men can enter this forest only to collect wood. But before that, they have to make sure that there are no women in the forest.
If a man is caught entering the forest while he is a woman, he is taken to the tribal court. Adriana Meraudji, a resident of the village, said that if the crime is proved, she has to pay a fine as well as punishment.
He said he had to pay a fine of Rs 10 lakh (local currency) to enter the forest, which is close to Rs 5,000 in Bangladeshi currency. These fines are usually taken in exchange for shiny stones.
Ati Rumboyarusi, a local woman resident, said they all went to the forest by boat at low tide. They have been independent since entering the forest. Because there are no men. That’s why everyone talks openly together.
No one knows when this rule came into force. But locals say they have heard the same story from their mothers and grandmothers. You know from the conventional story – whether the locals have been friends with this forest since 1808.
According to the women, the girls went down to the wetlands of the forest near the sea to collect oysters. The rule of taking off clothes may have been introduced thinking that the clothes could be ruined due to mud and the breath of the tree.
At low tide, they got out of the wooden boat. He stays in the forest all day. The name of that long wooden boat is ‘Kole Kole’. They have lunch inside the boat. It takes a whole day to collect oysters in the forest. So they put it with lunch.
But this forest, sacred to women, is now under threat. It is now half the size it was 50 years ago. As the sea was before, it has changed now. Before the sea was very beautiful, now it has become dirty. The garbage of the city market is washed away in the rain and comes here.
Adriana Meraudji lamented, ‘I often wonder what happened to our sea. But I can’t find any reason. Now I find more plastic instead of oysters and fruits. ‘
The resources of mangrove wetlands have also decreased due to pollution. Earlier, their wooden boat was full to the brim. The local women also said that even after working all day now, the boat is not half full.
However, Augustina said, they will not forget the tradition of coming to the forest even after this. Encourage the next generation as well. Because the forest is their place of liberation. If necessary, do what you have to do to save this forest in the coming days.
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