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Unequal treatment in Aceh caning, critics say

While those accused in gang rape case remain free, authorities cane an accused adulterer

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Unequal treatment in Aceh caning, critics say
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Authorities in Indonesia’s Aceh province have carried out a public caning for a married man accused of having an affair with a woman, even while assailants who allegedly beat the man and raped the woman remain free.

The 40-year-old man in Langsa, Aceh province, was lashed with a cane six times on Friday under a sharia-based Aceh bylaw known locally as qanun khalwat.

“He got six lashes,” Miftahol Arifin, chairman of the district town, told ucanews.com Monday.

Aceh is the only jurisdiction in Indonesia allowed to carry out sharia law for criminal cases. Offenses punishable by caning include adultery and even being alone with someone of the opposite sex who is not a relative.

Arifin said the punishment was justified because the pair broke the law.

“As violators, they deserve it,” he said.

The married man and the woman were caught together in early May when eight assailants burst into the woman’s home. The attackers allegedly gang-raped the woman after tying up the man and beating him. The assailants later took the pair to sharia police.

The woman still faces punishment in the case.

Her lawyer, Azriana, questioned how authorities could so easily punish the man and woman while their assailants remain free.

“(They) prioritize the case based on qanun khalwat. They let the gang rape case untouched. This is obviously unfair to the victim,” she said, adding that five rapists remain at large.

However, according to Arifin, only one of the attackers is still at large. 

Azriana said she did not dispute the bylaw’s existence. “But people must not focus merely on qanun khalwat and forget about the crime,” she told ucanews.com.

According to Amnesty International, at least 156 people have been caned in Aceh since 2010.

Local authorities say a punishment will eventually be carried out against the woman, though not for an unspecified period of time, because the woman is now pregnant.

“We have hearts,” said Arifin, the district official.

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