Villagers come up with eyebrow-raising way to enforce social distancing: 'It is a shock therapy'

·2 min read

A number of Indonesian villagers have taken matters into their own hands when it comes to social distancing, the Jakarta Post reports.

While 34 million people in Jakarta civilly comply with the government's social distancing guidelines amid a global health crisis, young villagers in the Kesongo hamlet of Kepuh village in Central Java’s Sukoharjo regency have resorted to dressing up as pocong — or Indonesian shroud ghosts — and standing guard in front of the gated entrance to enforce those rules.

"The pocong is not to scare residents; instead, we want to educate residents on the fact that coronavirus causes death," Anjar Panca, the keeper of Kesongo’s Al Himmah mosque, explained to the newspaper. "It is a shock therapy, as people usually [pay more attention] to anything related to death."

The "guards" wrap themselves in all white, akin to a mummy, and put on makeup, as a video from outlet Inews Jogja shows. According to the Post, they have been closely monitoring guests who come in and out of the hamlet.

Karno Supadmo, the head of the hamlet's neighborhood unit, revealed that residents had actually requested that guards keep watch because they were concerned about the virus potentially spreading.

Across the water, in the village of Galang in the Welak district of West Manggarai regency in East Nusa Tenggara, officials have been employing similar tactics. The newspaper reports that they have been using local folklores to scare residents into staying in.

"Our ancestors used to do it to scare children to prevent them from going out at night," village head Marianus Samsung told the Post.

According to folklore, a pocong is supposedly the soul of the deceased that has been trapped in a shroud.

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