The first female flogging force has been used in the Indonesian province of Aceh to better impose Sharia on women in the Islamic conservative province.
The flogger was one of eight female Sharia officers now trained to “limit injury” while dispensing such beatings with a rattan cane.
The female Sharia officer who dispensed the first flogging was initially hesitant to strike, but ultimately received praise from Banda Aceh Sharia police chief investigator Zakwan, who told AFP her “technique was nice.”
Zakwan said there is a mental hurdle to get over in publicly beating ones fellow citizens, adding a type of “indoctrination” was necessary to hep them understand their role and “have no mercy for those who violate God’s law.”
Amnesty International has previously admonished the practice, with the U.K.-based group’s former Southeast Asia campaigns director Josef Benedict saying being punished with up to 100 lashes for consensual sex “is despicable.”
“The use of caning as a punishment constitutes cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and may amount to torture,” Benedict said. “Injuries sustained from such monstrous physical abuse may well lead to permanent physical injuries, to say nothing of the psychological consequences of being systematically beaten.”
After multiple couples were caned for “showing affection in public” along with two sex workers in 2018, Amnesty reiterated the punishment “may amount to torture.”
In December 2019, a 22-year-old man found guilty of having pre-marital sex passed out while receiving 100 lashes.
The man, who had pleaded with the masked Sharia officer to stop, was revived so that the beating could continue, after which he was sent to the hospital. The woman he was found guilty of having sex was also sentenced to 100 lashes.
During a two-year period from October 2015-17, over 530 people were publicly flogged for what Human Rights Watch called “victimless crimes.”
Indonesian President Joko Widodo has also called for an end to the practice, which is used to punish a range of “morality” violations including gambling, drinking alcohol, having gay or premarital sex, and even non-marital kissing.
Widodo’s hands, however are tied.
The imposition of Islamic law in the province was allowed as part of a 2005 autonomy deal that ended a nearly 30-year insurgency between the Islamist Free Aceh Movement and the central government.
Of Indonesia’s 34 provinces, Aceh is the only one that imposes Shariah.
Below is an AP report from January 2019 on how two teenagers received whippings as punishment in Banda Aceh. The teenagers had been caught by Sharia police cuddling in public.