Don’t Do it Again
Aceh, home to about 5 million people, once mulled beheading for serious crimes, but the central government ruled it out.
This summer, it made headlines over a fatwa, or religious edict, against online game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) and opposing a national women’s football league because it didn’t have a stadium where only female players, match officials and spectators would be present.
But whipping is often what gets Aceh in the news — unwanted attention local officials say is Islamophobic.
Advocates say many people caught breaking religious law choose whipping as an efficient, if painful, way to avoid a stiff jail term.
But this rough justice can take a toll.
Floggings can be so severe that people pass out or are hospitalized, with the most serious crimes — including gay sex and having a relations with a minor — earning as many as 150 lashes.
Many offenders have fled the area out of shame or because customers deserted their businesses. Few are keen to discuss their experience.
For women, arrest for even a minor violation can lead to victimization, including sexual harassment and rape during arrest, according to research by the Network for Civil Society Concerned with Sharia.
Reporting these assaults without proof can even open up victims to flogging for making a false accusation, it added.
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have condemned such punishments as “barbaric”, “inhumane”, and tantamount to torture.
But Aceh officials insist they’re “far more lenient” than ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia and some other Muslim nations.
“We’re not aiming to hurt people by whipping them,” Safriadi said.
“The most important thing is the shaming effect on violators and spectators so they don’t do it again.”
PICTURE BY CHAIDEER MAHYUDDINN. VIDEO BY BAGUS SARAGIH