Tales of girls becoming sexual targets have been retold
since ancient Greek times. But the tale of a roaming soul
of a rape victim is perhaps typical of Jakarta.
A female ghost in white is believed to occasionally come
into view on the Ancol Bridge in North Jakarta, scaring
pedestrians or drivers who cross the bridge at night. Eyewitnesses
say that the ghost sometimes make a sudden appearance at
the end of the 200-meter bridge and disappears into the
darkness. The appearance of the ghost, locally called Ariah,
Si Manis Jembatan Ancol (Ariah, Pretty Girl of the Ancol
Bridge) has been made into a popular TV series. In the TV
version, the girl's name is Mariam and is clad in white
outfit. Normally sexy and alluring, her face turns pace
and demonic when men attempt to seduce her.
Ariah is an unfortunate Betawi girl known for her prettiness.
She lives with her mother who was a widow. To survive, she
was compelled to seek and sell vegetables and eggs at local
traditional markets. Her mother, Mak Emper always advised
her to be careful when seeking vegetables and hens' eggs.
One day, to her mother's surprise, the girl did not return
home, making her mother extremely worried. That night Mak
Emper met Ariah in her dreams, and her daughter tried to
calm her down, saying that she was alright and nothing happened
to her. She even promised to help her sister who was about
to get married. What Ariah said to her mother came true
when Mak Emper found a basket of fresh fish and vegetables
in front of a door of the house where she lived. Nobody
claimed to be the senders of the fish and vegetables.
Folklore has it that Ariah was the victim of rape and murder,
though the culprit was never found. After being killed,
the soul of Ariah is believed to continue to roam around
her kampong, making all those who see her petrified with
According to eyewitnesses, Ariah looks calm but she will
turn into pale and cold when men try to seduce her. She
is burned up with fury at women-chasers attempting to seduce
her, generally throwing them in the river.
And until today, drivers who pass the bridge often blow
their horn or flash their lamps just to say hello to the
soul of Ariah.