A terrified woman was today dragged by police before she was publicly caned in Indonesia’s Aceh province for having sex outside of marriage, a crime punishable under strict local Islamic law.
Dozens gathered to watch as the humiliated woman was whipped along with seven other people outside a mosque in the provincial capital Banda Aceh.
A masked sharia officer known as an ‘algojo’ rained down between five to 45 lashes from a rattan cane on their backs after they were caught with members of the opposite sex.
The men and women were rounded up by religious officers after they reportedly had intercourse outside marriage – which violates Aceh province’s strict Sharia laws.
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.
Authorities gave few details, but couples have been whipped in the past for cuddling or holding hands in public.
About 98 per cent of Aceh’s five million residents are Muslims subject to religious law, known locally as Qanun.
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.
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.