Aceh Rape Victim to Be Caned, Shariah Official Insists

Jakarta Globe

A woman in Aceh who was gang raped last week after being accused of having extramarital sex now faces the indignity of a public caning for the original offense.

“We want the couple to be caned because they violated the religious bylaw on sexual relations,” Ibrahim Latif, the head of the Shariah office in the eastern town of Langsa, said of the woman and her companion, a 40-year-old married man, who were raided by a group of men last Wednesday night at the woman’s home.

The woman was raped by the eight vigilantes, three of whom have since been arrested. Her companion was tied up and beaten. The pair were also doused with sewage by the vigilantes, who later took them to the Shariah police, or Wilayatul Hisbah.

Ibrahim said the fact that the woman had been raped would not be taken into consideration in determining the punishment for the religious crime that she was accused of committing.

“They have to be [caned] as a form of justice because the rapists will also be processed, but in a criminal court,” he said. “Besides, they’ve confessed to having sex on several previous occasions, even though the man is married and has five children.”

The Langsa Police chief, Adj. Sr. Comr. Hariadi, and the chief of detectives, Adj. Comr. M. Firdaus, were not immediately available for comment.

Under the partial Shariah exercised in Aceh, the woman and her companion face up to nine strokes of the cane each. The rapists would have faced the same number of lashes had they been dragged through the Shariah process.

Three of them, including a 13-year-old boy, have been arrested by police, who are still hunting for the five others.

They are accused of gang raping the woman after barging into her house late last Wednesday and accusing her of having improper sexual relations with the man.

After assaulting the man and raping the woman, they marched the pair to the Shariah police. It was only during their interrogation of the victim that officers found out she had been raped.

An official from Nahdlatul Ulama, the country’s biggest Islamic organization, has backed the call to cane the couple, but says the rapists must also face Shariah charges in addition to criminal ones.

Teungku Faisal Ali, the head of the NU’s Aceh chapter, told the Jakarta Globe that “the punishment for the mob that raped the victim must be much harsher because they have set back efforts to uphold Shariah in Aceh.”

He also urged residents to leave Shariah enforcement up to the WH and not enforce the regulations themselves.

“If anyone sees any violation of Shariah, they must report it to the Shariah police, in accordance with the prevailing standards and procedures,” Faisal said.

He also bemoaned what he called the increasing use of mob violence in Aceh, particularly against those accused of Shariah violations.

This is not the first case in Aceh of a rape being committed against a woman accused of inappropriate conduct with an unrelated male.

A 20-year-old university student was raped by three Shariah police officers in Langsa in January 2010 after being caught riding on a motorcycle with her boyfriend.

The town’s Shariah police chief, Syahril, was subsequently fired and two of the perpetrators were later sentenced to eight years in prison each. The third perpetrator was never caught.