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12 March 2016

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You are correct, Evelyn, we don't hear about these tales anymore. The urban tale of the organ thieves in tinted vehicles were also quite popular back then (the 1990s). These tales created real fear and did serve a purpose.

I hardly hear stories about the bottle meri these days.. Maybe because Education and Westernisation have changed people's mindsets about such legends. But years back when I was in primary school in the early 90's in Lae that urban tale was popular. The Botanical gardens in Lae was said to be the home of these beautiful cum brutal women. We were scared as our school St Pauls Community (now primary) was close to the Botanical gardens. We were scared to even look towards it.

The other urban tale popular back then in Lae was the vehicle that went around kidnapping children for their hearts.To this day I am still trying to work out the underlying reason for this tale. I'm thinking maybe that tale was created just to keep children away from strangers.

Thank you Chris and Garry for your comments regarding this urban legend.

This tale did its rounds in the late 1980s and early 1990s and people actually believe in it, probably because of its fantastic nature. I discussed this tale, before submitting, with my wife and surprisingly, she also heard about it (her's is a different location to mine) and she also identified the location in her area (a town location) where the botol meri is said to appear. It made me realise that perhaps this tale was quite popular then in PNG urban towns or rural towns.

I have an interest in this type of modern folklores and your comments are very important foot notes to this tale for those who also have interest in PNG urban legends and modern folklores.

I believe there are many more of these legends being whispered around in PNG that needs to be recorded.

The urban myth of 'botol meri" may have parallels in rural folklore. In the western highlands people spoke of 'rogia amp pukapuk" (not sure if spelling or pronounciation is right) who dwelt in the Baiyer river area and was a nymph or enchantress who seduced men and the men became ill afterwards and even died. One well known expat planter was even said to have fallen victim to her charms and died. In some European folktales the hero had to resist seduction by a woman offering an 'apple'if he was to reach the end of his journey.

Raymond has presented a fascinating urban myth which, as I suspect he knows, is absolutely loaded with psychological and sociological significance.

The botol meri is the embodiment of mens' deep seated fears about women, sex and procreation.

On the one hand, the botol meri represents the ultimate seductress: beautiful, entrancing and offering the promise of ultimate sexual pleasure.

On the other, the myth reflects any man's worst fear, being traumatic, painful emasculation.

In a broader sense I think it reflects the uneasy relationship between Papua New Guinean men and their women.

This type of thinking about women is not, of course, unique to PNG.

All across the world there are similar myths which embody the dichotomous way men think about women.

Anne Summers' neatly encapsulated this in the title of her famous work about women in Australia, which she called "Damned Whores and God's Police".

Similarly, this dichotomy was also very evident in Ancient Rome where a woman's role as a mother and home maker was officially venerated at the same time as men routinely pursued sexual relationships outside of marriage.

Raymond has done a public service in airing an urban myth that goes to the very heart of a really serious and pervasive social problem in PNG.

Just how it is going to be resolved I do not know but it is certainly something that any woman has every right to be angry and concerned about.

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