Since the days of European colonial rule in The Malay Archipelago, hundreds of thousands of male inhabitants from island of Bawean in Indonesia are destined to leave – many of whom end up working in large commercial vessels for a long period across the globe – only to return home to meet significant emotional and psychological implications of divorce. Today, the Bawean diaspora refers to communities of Bawean living outside the Republic of Indonesia which comprises Singaporean & Malaysian citizens that have never set foot on the ancestral land. Bawean migrations are rooted in centuries-old tradition. The diaspora phenomenon holds vital implications for a remote island that seeks prosperity – despite the odds that are stacked against her. The inclination to migrate, or »merantau«, which may almost be called a cultural ideal – sustained not only by deeply ingrained cultural dynamics, but also socio-economic. The Isle of Women hopes to highlight not only the migration of its male inhabitants, but also, its female inhabitants that once gave birth to its appellation as »The Isle of Women«. Recorded on site primarily in Bawean, Indonesia and Singapore, The Isle of Women reveals the issue. It asks why this is happening, and what can be done to put an end to the vicious cycle of »brain drain«; observed at a micro-social level of a remote island in the vastness of the Sea of Java.
about the author
Erwin Maisch, born in 1978 in Singapore, is a first time filmmaker.