JAKARTA: A 25-year-old Acehnese woman is at risk of being caned by Aceh’s syariah police despite being a victim of gang rape at her home in Langsa.
“She could definitely be caned if investigators find she and her companion violated the qanun [Islamic by-law] on close proximity, or khalwat,” said Langsa Islamic Sharia Agency head Ibrahim Latif.
The Aceh provincial administration has imposed the Qanun Acara Jinayat, a syariah-based criminal code that stipulates rules and punishments governing behavior according to Islamic law.
The code applies to all people in the province, including non-Muslims.
Qanun No. 14/2003 stipulates syariah law offenders will be caned three times at a minimum and nine times at a maximum, or required to pay a fine of between 2.5 million rupiah (US$215) and 10 million rupiah.
For the 25-year-old woman in question, there is no qanun that carries a punishment for rape.
So far, Aceh only has four qanun: One on religious affairs, worship and religious symbols; one on khamar (the consumption of alcoholic drinks); one on maisir (gambling), and one on khalwat (affectionate contact between an unmarried couple).
“Since Aceh does not yet have a qanun on rape, the perpetrators will be charged under the Criminal Code [KUHP]” said Latif.
The rape took place in the woman’s house at around 1am on May 1 when she, who was with a married man in her house at the time, was closely observed by nine villagers who were suspicious of their movements.
When the woman and her male companion went inside, the villagers immediately followed, tying up the woman’s companion and placing him in a cupboard before alledgedly taking turns to rape the woman.
The group then handed the woman and man to the village chief who, in turn, gave them to the syariah police. After providing advice and counseling, the police eventually released the woman and her companion.
The Langsa City Police later arrested some of the suspected rapists, but only caught three of them, while the other six fled.
The three were identified as ML, 28; Zu, 21 and CS, 13. The police, however, released CS as he was not found to have committed any crime, said Langsa City Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Hariadi.
According to Hariadi, the investigation of the case will be divided into two stages; the first investigating the act of rape, including the victims, and the second investigating the case in terms of Sharia law, with the rape victim and her companion suspected of an indecent act.
Women activists have urged the administration to handle the case fairly, saying that the rapists must be punished.
An activist at the Balai Syura Ureung Inong Aceh (BSUIA), Norma Manalu, said committing rape in the name of syariah law was completely inappropriate and ran against true Islamic values.
“Today, the people have taken the law into their own hands,” she said. - The Jakarta Post/ANN