There are a lot of problematic stories in the Indonesian media that are heavily slanted with sexist, conservative and religious biases. This is not one of those stories. It’s just an incredibly irresponsible piece of journalism that literally gives people detailed instruction on how they can get high, cheaply and easily, using common household products that are also extremely toxic.
Last Friday, the front page of the Pos Belitung newspaper, based on Belitung Island, featured a story with the headline “Mabuk Rebusan Pembalut” (“Drunk from Boiling Menstrual Pads”) with a crude illustration of an intoxicated cartoon man who presumably just drank a dose of sanitary napkin wine.
A version of the story exists online, but rather than force you to read that, we’ll summarize. Basically the story is about how teens in East Belitung have discovered a crazy new method for getting high (unike the crazy old ways like huffing glue and guzzling cough syrup) that has been spreading amongst high school and junior high school students: boiling menstrual pads and diapers and drinking the result.
Incredibly, the main body of the article consists of interviews with two teenagers who regularly get high using this method and includes their detailed instructions on how they do it, such as how long the items should be boiled and which brands are the best. Their instructions are even presented in recipe format in the newspaper version, just to make it easier for young readers to follow apparently.
It also details the effects of the incredibly toxic concoctions, with one of the teenagers saying how cool it feels to ride on a motorcycle while high with the wind rushing over you. Oh, and it notes how cheap and easily available menstrual pads and diapers are to purchase.
To be fair, below the main story there is an accompanying article explaining that the substances contained within menstrual pads and diapers contain toxic chemicals such as chlorine that could lead to cancer or death. But the way it is presented as an aside to the main story still makes it extremely problematic, and it is not linked to in the body of main story’s online version.
If Pos Belitung’s intention really was to combat a serious chemical abuse issue, then the way their feature was presented could easily cause more harm than good.
(H/T to redditor somethinghaha on r/Indonesia for the find)
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