An unmarried couple have been publicly whipped 21 times each for breaking Sharia law in Indonesia’s Aceh district after they were caught making out in a parked car. The couple were found in the Ule Lee Harbor area of Banda Aceh City, on the island of Sumatra, according to Sindo News.
The public whipping took place at the Bustanul Salatin complex on Wednesday afternoon. The woman, RO, 23, and the man, M, 24, who were described as a non-muhrim couple, were given 21 lashes with a rattan cane, reduced from 25.
Images show a police officer speaking on a microphone to those watching the act while others take photographs.
The executioner, or Algojo, is seen covered from head to toe in a brown cloak-like costume with two eye holes covered by a white mask. The woman and man are pictured being individually led to a room before being punished.
While being caned on a blue carpet, the woman, who is wearing a white burka, appears to slump forward towards the floor in agony.
‘The two of them violated Article 25 paragraph (1) of Qanun Aceh Number 6 of 2014 concerning the Jinayat Law, namely the act of conscientiousness,’ said the Head of Criminal Investigation Section of the Banda Aceh Prosecutor’s Office, Isnawati, in Banda Aceh.
The car was found parked and swaying, according to Aceh media outlet Bithe. After checking the vehicle, the officer found the couple making out. Until now, RO had been detained at the Lhoknga prison, in Aceh Besar and M had been detained at the Kajhu detention centre, Isna said.
Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population. Aceh is the only one of the nation’s 34 provinces that can legally adopt bylaws derived from Sharia. The province follows religious law as part of a 2005 autonomy deal agreed with the central government that ended a decades-long separatist insurgency.
Public whipping remains a common punishment for scores of offenders for a range of charges including gambling, adultery, drinking alcohol, and having gay or pre-marital sex.
The ‘close proximity’ law makes association by unmarried individuals of the opposite sex a criminal offence in some circumstances.
Aceh’s Sharia police have interpreted the broadly worded Sharia-inspired adultery law to prohibit merely sitting and talking in a ‘quiet’ space with a member of the opposite sex to whom one is not married or related – even without any evidence of intimacy, according to Human Rights Watch.
The controversial punishment enrages rights activists and generates heated debate in the media and amongst politicians.