Indonesian Gang-Rape Victim May Be Publicly Caned for Violating Sharia Law
An Indonesian woman who was allegedly gang-raped in Aceh as punishment for sleeping with a married man may still be caned under the province’s Islamic laws.
A group of eight men allegedly raped the 25-year-old woman after they discovered her with a married man in her family home in Lhokbani village, East Aceh, the Associated Press reports.
The Jakarta Globe reports the group caught the pair just before they were about to have sex.
“The perpetrators tied up the woman’s companion and took the woman into another room, where they raped her,” Langsa Police Chief Hariadi told the Globe. The assailants also reportedly beat the man and doused the pair in sewage before turning them over to police.
Three male suspects, including a 13-year-old boy, have been arrested in connection with the vicious assault and rape, Hariadi said. The other suspects have been identified and police have urged their relatives to turn them in.
But Ibrahim Latif, head of the Sharia office in Lansga, told the Globe that the gang-rape victim would likely be punished by public caning for the ‘crime’ of extramarital sex, which is strictly prohibited under Islamic law.
“We want the couple to be caned because they violated the religious bylaw on sexual relations,” Latif explained. “They have to be caned as a form of justice because the rapists will also be processed, but in a criminal court. Besides, they have already confessed to having sex on several previous occasions, even though the man is married and has five children.”
Under Aceh Sharia law, the woman and her lover each face as many as nine lashes of the cane. Had they been subjected to Sharia law, the rapists would have faced the same penalty.
While most people in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim nation, support Sharia penalties, some human rights advocates have spoken out against the practice.
Arimbi Heroepoetri of the National Commission on Violence against Women told the Globe distinctions should be drawn between adultery and rape.
“Law enforcers must understand that the woman, as a gang-rape victim, must be traumatized,” said Heroepoetri. “The rape case must be prioritized. The issue of sexual abuse is urgent. She cannot just be caned after being raped by eight men.”
Unfortunately, this is far from the first case of a mob exacting vigilante ‘justice’ by raping women found to be engaging in extramarital sex or even for just associating with unrelated men in Aceh. In 2010, three Sharia policemen gang-raped a 20-year-old university student in Langsa for the ‘crime’ of riding on a motorcycle with her boyfriend. Syahril, the town’s Sharia police chief, was fired following the incident, and two of the rapists were sentenced to eight years in prison. The third rapist was never found.
In some Muslims societies, women and girls who are victims of rape are brutally punished under Islamic law. Rape victims are often considered criminals in Islamic nations, where men often view women as having provoked the attacks by their very presence.
Earlier this year, a pregnant teenager who claimed she was gang-raped was charged with adultery and faces death by stoning in Sudan, one of at least nine Muslim nations (Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Somalia, Bangladesh) where adultery is punishable by death by stoning under the law or by local custom.
Last year, a 15-year-old girl in the Maldives was sentenced to 100 whip lashes for premarital sex after she was raped by her stepfather.
In Bangladesh, a 14-year-old girl who was raped by her 40-year-old pedophile cousin was whipped to death following an illegal 2011 fatwa, or Islamic edict.
Public opinion polls across the Islamic world have found widespread, often overwhelming, support for stoning adulterers. The Indonesia Survey Institute found that 43 percent of respondents favored the punishment, while polls in Egypt (82 percent approval), Jordan (70 percent), Pakistan (82 percent) and Nigeria (56 percent) also found strong support for the practice.
These are but a handful of the countless cases in which women and girls, often rape victims, have been brutally punished or killed for sexual ‘crimes’ under Islamic law or custom.