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Unfortunately it’s true that a 25 year-old woman faces up to nine lashes with a wooden cane as punishment for “adultery” after being gang-raped by eight men in the Langsa district of Aceh, Indonesia.
On 1 May 2014, a group of 8 men, one of them just 13 years old, stormed the 25-year-old widow’s home and accused her of having an affair with her 40-year-old companion. Aceh has partially adopted Shariah, which, among other prohibitions, forbids intimacy of any kind between unmarried couples.
The eight vigilantes have been accused of repeatedly raping the young woman and beating her companion before marching them to a local Shariah police station. Three of the attackers are now being held in custody. The others are still fugitives.
The city’s Shariah police, or Wilayatul Hisbah, announced that the woman and her companion would be caned for the original charge of adultery. The punishment violates the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment, which Indonesia ratified in 1998.
Frans Winarta, a lawyer and chairman of the country’s bar association, argues that in light of the rape, the woman should be let go:
I feel that she has to be given an exemption [from caning] because she has become a victim.
According to Amnesty International, at least 139 people were publicly beaten in Aceh province between 2010 and 2013.
All provinces in Indonesia are guaranteed a degree of autonomy and Aceh is one of only five that enjoys special autonomy (the other four are Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Papua and West Papua). That concession was granted to Aceh in 2005 as part of the peace accord that ended three decades of armed separatist struggle in the province. Under that special autonomy, authorities in Aceh implemented a limited form of Shariah, which also obliges women to wear a head scarf and men to wear long trousers; and prohibits the consumption of alcohol and the selling and public consumption of food during Ramadan. A recent bylaw in the province extended its provisions to all residents and visitors, including non-Muslims.