NETRALNEWS.COM - Terrified locals have been violently lashed by Sharia law 'enforcers' for spending time with people who are not their wives or husbands in Indonesia. The public caning, which took place in Banda Aceh province, saw several citizens whipped in front of a huge crowd.
Masked enforcers carried out the punishments as part of their duties as algojo, which translated from Indonesian means 'the executioner' and the person responsible for carrying out the death penalty. Some of the masked men are paid professional executioners, and all adhere to an intimidating dress code of a black robe with a gold trim, beige or light-coloured eye mask and white gloves.
Previously, the enforcers have been seen to wear a pink trim to their black robes, but their footwear appears to be their own choice. They have been seen to wear black boots, running shoes and in the most recent lashings which occurred on Monday, one enforcer was spotted wearing what looked like hotel-issue white slippers.
Punishments were handed out to women and men having sex outside of marriage for which they received 25 lashings. One man was caned for gambling and both men and women were lashed for spending time with somebody who is not their husband or wife.
The punishments are not consistent with previous cases, with women caned 100 time for having sex outside of marriage just 10 days ago. The beatings occurred in Aceh, which is the only province in the country which implements Sharia law in full.
The province began implementing Sharia law after being granted autonomy in 2001 – an attempt by the government in Jakarta to quell a long-running separatist insurgency. Islamic laws have been strengthened since Aceh struck a peace deal with Jakarta in 2005.
People are flogged for a range of offences including gambling, drinking alcohol, gay sex or any sexual relationship outside marriage. More than 90 per cent of the 255million people who live in Indonesia describe themselves as Muslim, but the vast majority practice a moderate form of the faith.
The brutal and public beatings have become more prevalent this year with a number of reported incidents of those being punished collapsing in pain on stage. Back in September 2014, Aceh approved an anti-homosexuality law that can punish anyone caught having gay sex with 100 lashes.
An Islamic enforcer, known as 'the executioner', draws back his cane to whip a man accused of having sex outside of marriage
After a three-decade-old separatist movement, a peace agreement signed in 2005 granted special autonomy to Aceh, at the northern tip of Sumatra, on condition that it remained part of the sprawling archipelago. As part of that deal, Aceh won the right to be the only Indonesian province to use Islamic sharia law as its legal code.
Anybody caught engaging in consensual gay sex is punished with 100 lashes, 100 months in jail or a fine of 1,000 grams of gold. The law also set out punishment for sex crimes, unmarried people engaging in displays of affection, people caught found guilty of adultery and underage sex.
Religious police in Aceh have been known to target Muslim women without head scarves or those wearing tight clothes, and people drinking alcohol or gambling. Over the past decade, the central government has devolved more power to regional authorities to increase autonomy and speed up development.
Engaging in homosexual acts is not a crime under Indonesia's national criminal code but remains taboo in many conservative parts of the country with the world's largest Muslim population. Previous lashings have resulted in men and women collapsing in a heap due to the pain of caused by the whipping.
Although there were no signs that any of those caned on Monday collapsed, the punishments handed out appeared to be more lenient than in the past. Just 10 days ago, men and women received 100 lashes for having sex outside marriage. In the same public humiliation, a child molester was whipped 120 times for his crime.