At least one woman and three men have been publicly flogged in Indonesia’s Aceh province for having sex outside of marriage.
The woman was shown collapsing in pain after the beating and being helped on to a stretcher by her guards.
Two men were shown on stage being whipped with a bamboo cane, while a third was shown being led up on stage in the regional capital Banda Aceh so his punishment could be carried out.
A woman is helped on to a stretcher in Bana Aceh, the capital Aceh, Indoensia’s only Sharia law province, after being publicly flogged for having sex outside of marriage
Public floggings are common in Aech for a range of crimes including extramarital sex, same-sex relationships, adultery and even hugging in public
Women are traditionally allowed to remain seated while they are beaten while men are forced to stand. They are also accompanied by female guards who help them on to and off the stage
One of at least three men whipped in Banda Aceh on Thursday for having sex outside marriage is struck across the back with a bamboo cane
Aceh is the only province in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, to apply Sharia law which proscribes corporal punishments for ‘crimes’ such as extramarital sex, same-sex relations, and smoking.
However, Indonesian lawmakers are considering rolling out a similar legal code across the entire country as they look to replace their Dutch colonial-era legal code with one based on Indonesian principles.
The proposed code would see extramarital sex punished with up to one year in jail, unmarried couples who ‘live together as a husband and wife’ could be jailed for six months or face a $710 fine, while anyone who promotes contraception to a person aged under 18 could also face a fine.
Indonesia’s parliament and government agreed a final draft, of the 628-article bill on Wednesday and the House of Representatives is expected to vote on it later in the month.
The changes to the law would also apply to foreigners visiting the nation which is home to around 260 million people, including substantial Christian, Hindu and Buddhist minority groups.
The Institute for Criminal Justice Reform, an NGO, said millions of Indonesians could be ensnared by the new laws. It noted a study indicating that 40 per cent of Indonesian adolescents engaged in pre-marital sexual activity.
The law also impacts homosexuals as gay marriage is not recognised in Indonesia.
Sharia Police escort an Acehnese man prior to his being caned in public for having sex outside of marraige in Banda Aceh
Sharia Police escort an Acehnese woman before she is caned in public for having sex outside of marraige in Banda Aceh
Floggings typically draw a crowd of observers, policemen, officials and media, many of whom film the beatings
An Acehnese man is caned in public for having sex outside of marraige in Banda Aceh, Indonesia
The code also establishes prison terms for those found to commit ‘obscene acts’, defined as violating norms of decency and politeness through ‘lust or sexuality’ for both heterosexual and homosexual people.
The new laws will also apply to foreigners. However, asked whether tourists in Indonesia could face jail for extramarital sex, Taufiqulhadi said: ‘No problem, as long as people don’t know.’
There would also be a maximum four-year prison term for women who have an abortion, applicable if there was no medical emergency or rape involved. The code further introduces fines for some people who promote contraception, and a six-month prison term for unauthorised discussion of ‘tools of abortion’.
Senior Indonesia researcher at Human Rights Watch, Andreas Harsono, said such a move would put women’s lives at risk.
‘The bill’s provisions censoring information about contraception could set back the progress Indonesia has made in recent years to dramatically reduce maternal deaths,’ Harsono said.
Insulting the government and state institutions also carries a prison term – which activists say could have an impact on press freedoms – a similar law was struck down by the Constitutional Court in 2006.
In a statement, Human Right Watch, said if passed the new laws would ‘violate free speech and freedom of association. The ability to engage in political speech, even speech espousing a peaceful political ideology that the government does not favor, lies at the heart of the democratic process.’