The Dove, or white pigeon, is a global symbol of love. Women in Purbalingga, Central Java, however, would beg to differ.
Pigeons have been blamed for dozens of divorces in the regency.
Husbands in Purbalingga are apparently neglecting their wives because they are too busy with their racing pigeons.
As a result, dozens of married women have filed divorce petitions because they have become jealous of their husbands’ intimacy with the animal.
In July alone, the Purbalingga Religious Court office recorded more than 90 divorce petitions, a jump from only 13 in the previous month.
“Most of the petitioners are wives who have filed divorce petitions for economic reasons because their husbands are too addicted to pigeon racing,” a clerk with the court, Nur Aflah, told reporters on Monday.
According to her, the wives were annoyed with their husbands’ habit of playing with the birds with their friends and taking care of the birds all day, leaving no time for their families.
“In Purbalingga, there are many female workers while most men are unemployed. Most of the husbands end up becoming ‘pilots.’ Here, a ‘pilot’ does not fly a plane but races pigeons,” Nur said.
Read also: A Passion for Pigeons
The court has asked the regional administration and local clerics to help provide enlightenment to the residents in the hope it would reduce the divorce rate in the regency.
The dry season is usually the best time for pigeon handlers to play and joyfully train their birds around paddy fields.
“Pigeons maniacs usually gather in the paddy fields from 10 a.m. and return home in the evening, no matter how hot the weather is,” said Tarwanto, a 45-year-old resident of Padamara village.
It is a common practice to place bets and race the pigeons. This has reportedly exacerbated their families’ financial situations.
A similar phenomenon also occurs in Banyumas, Central Java.
“His bird is the first thing he grabs when he wakes up. At around 10 o’clock, he goes out with his friends to play with their pigeons in the fields nearby,” said Sartini, 35, a villager of Bojongsari.
Although her husband sometimes gave her money he won gambling on pigeon races, it was more frequent that he asked her for money to buy cigarettes. (foy)