‘Klitih’, ‘Perang Sarung’, ‘Tawuran’, ‘Geng Motor’: The Violence Culture Gets Explained

Yogyakarta culture looks so lofty and amazing and intricate but we need to see the other side of coin. (Wikimedia Commons)

KLITIH used to mean something good, harmless. “Klitah klitih” means “to move to and fro looking for something, mostly for hangout spots”. But now it refers to a criminal act towards teenagers in Yogyakarta in early hours in the morning.

For years it’s been all rage but nothing substantial was done to combat the horrible social trend. From January to April 2022, there have been 12 cases of klitih. There have been 7 casualties since 2016. It doesn’t seem many but if it’s about life, losing one is too many. Especially these youngsters.

This is quite an irony because Yogyakarta, the epicentrum of klitih, is known for being a city of students, a home to several famous universities. How can a place be a civilized, erudite, educated yet violent at the same time? This is a big question to answer.

What makes klitih different from tawuran is it is a fight organized and carefully planned between two gangs from two schools or areas. So they already know their targets.

But klitih practitioners and victims are not familiar with each other. Victims are chosen randomly on street. They have no specific target. Anyone they meet on street could be victims. Even an adult can be an easy prey of these teenagers.

Perang Sarung is now also on the rise in Yogyakarta. Sarung is a sarong, a piece of cloth or fabric to cover the lower body of male muslims while praying. But here, teenagers fill their sarongs with sharp objects to hurt or kill others.

Seniority culture in schools in Yogyakarta has been said to be the cause of the street violence tradition. Freshmen/ juniors are recruited by seniors of a school to attack students of other schools that have had a long history of rivalry. Indoctrination is rampant under ground, unbeknownst to teachers, principals, and authorities, even their own parents. Or perhaps parents or guardians of these kids don’t even care at all.

Meanwhile, geng motor is defined as a gang consisting of youngsters that like to showcase their motorbikes on public streets. In Yogyakarta, this is not as rampant as klitih.

The regent of Sleman has recently signed a rule of curfew for people, prohibiting everyone especially teenagers getting out of their home from 10 pm to 4 am.

Is this enough?

Maybe not. We have not addressed the root of the problem at all.

Such rule has existed before but no substantial changes are seen. (*/)

Author: akhlis

Writer & yogi

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