An Indonesian woman was gang-raped in an act of so-called vigilante justice for having an affair with a married man. Now she may be caned in public as further punishment.
The 25-year-old widow, who has not been named, was attacked by eight men last week in her home in Indonesia’s northern region of Aceh, reports The Independent. The gang broke into her home, tied her up with her male companion and accused them of having an illegal sexual relationship.
The men then raped the widow and covered her and the man in sewage waste, according to the Jakarta Globe.
Shariah officials then questioned the pair, and the woman told them about the rapes. But officials say that the victim will still be punished for her crime against religious law, despite the gross sexual assault.
“We want the couple to be caned because they violated the religious bylaw on sexual relations,” Ibrahim Latif, the head of the Sharia office in the eastern town of Langsa, told the Globe.
At the same time, police are pursuing the eight attackers. Three, including a 13-year-old boy, have been apprehended.
“They have to be [caned] as a form of justice because the rapists will also be processed, but in a criminal court,” he added. “Besides, they’ve confessed to having sex on several previous occasions, even though the man is married and has five children.”
Ismail Hasani, a scholar at Jakarta’s Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University and a program manager at the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace, said that the case marks the friction between Shariah law, common law, and national law in the region. It’s not the first time, he says, that the Shariah law system in Aceh has led to victim-blaming.
“Looking at this case, based on common law, the woman, even though she is a victim, still has to accept punishment. But when we take the national law perspective, she primarily is a victim who needs protection,” said Hasani.
Calling the caning punishment “excessive,” he pointed out that the discipline was based on “sexual imagination instead of legal facts.” Aceh officials, he says, decide to enforce Shariah law based on prejudice or politics.
“This is also a case of rape. She has rights,” Hasani added. “This is hypocrisy which is fostered continuously by Acehnese elites with a political view of Islam.”