Caned in public for getting too close to the opposite sex: Six men and five women are flogged by hooded Sharia enforcer for breaking Islamic law in Indonesia
- Six men and five women were rounded up by religious police in Indonesia’s arch-conservative Aceh province
- They were punished with between eight and 32 strokes on their backs, handed out by a hooded official
- Public whipping is used for gambling, drinking alcohol and having premarital sex, despite widespread anger
One woman begged for mercy and another sobbed uncontrollably as Indonesia‘s Aceh arch-conservative province flogged 11 people for getting too close to members of the opposite sex.
The six men and five women were rounded up by religious officers who caught them behaving amorously in public, a crime under local Islamic law.
Dozens watched as the humiliated victims were whipped outside a mosque in the provincial capital Banda Aceh.
Despite widespread criticism, public whipping is a common punishment for a range of offences in the deeply conservative region at the tip of Sumatra island, including gambling, drinking alcohol, and having gay sex or relations outside of marriage.
Aceh is the only region in the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country that imposes Islamic law.
Punishment: A hooded member of the Sharia police (pictured left) prepares to dish out 11 canings to people caught with the opposite sex in public, including the woman on the far right
Public caning: One of the men feels the pain of the whipping as he punished is for being too close to the opposite sex in the only Indonesian province to practice Islamic law
Spectator event: People standing near the stage watch the public flogging as the kneeling man is hit with the cane for breaking the Aceh region’s Sharia law
A masked sharia officer known as an ‘algojo’ rained down between eight and 32 strokes from a rattan cane on their backs after they were caught with members of the opposite sex.
The six men and five women – all in their late teens and early twenties – were rounded up by religious officers who caught them behaving amorously, a crime under local law.
Authorities gave few details, but couples have been whipped in the past for cuddling or holding hands in public.
One 19-year-old woman caught in an unidentified building with a man burst into tears as the whipping started, while another woman begged for the punishment to stop.
A Buddhist man caught with a woman inside a hotel room got more than two dozen lashes.
About 98 per cent of Aceh’s five million residents are Muslims subject to religious law, known locally as Qanun.
Memories: A woman uses her phone to record the public caning of 11 people who were rounded up by religious authorities in Indonesia
Humiliated: A woman receives a stroke from the cane in Indonesia’s staunchly conservative Aceh province on Thursday
Brutal: A masked and hooded official hits one of the men on the back after he broke the region’s strict Islamic law
While it’s relatively rare, non-Muslims who have committed an offence can choose to be prosecuted under Islamic law, sometimes to avoid a prison sentence.
On Friday, Banda Aceh’s mayor Aminullah Usman warned hotels and businesses to comply with the region’s conservative regulations – or risk losing their license to operate.
‘We’ve warned hotels to not even think about breaking the rules’ by renting rooms to unmarried couples, he told reporters after the flogging.
‘Otherwise, we will revoke their licenses,’ he added.
The whipping came a day after three people in Lhokseumawe, a district a few hours from Banda Aceh, were flogged 100 times each for having premarital sex, including a 19-year-old man who had relations with an underage girl.
In December, two men caught having sex with underage girls were whipped 100 times each.
Rights groups have slammed public caning as cruel, and Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has called for it to end, but the practice has wide support among Aceh’s population.
Public event: Security personnel secure the public caning location in Banda Aceh, as dozens turned out to watch the punishment being handed out
Aftermath: Sharia police tend to one of the whipped women after she was flogged in public for breaking the region’s strict religious laws
Hidden: The hooded guard brandishes their weapon as they carry out the public flogging. The most severe punishments in Indonesia’s Aceh province can see offenders caned up to 100 times
Terrified: One of the women who was punished for breaking Sharia law keeps her head down as she is flogged on the back