Indonesia has introduced an all female flogging squad to punish women who violate Islamic laws – a first for the largest Muslim country in the world.
The morality police in Aceh, the only region in Indonesia that implements Sharia law, are already getting the eight-member squad to work.
The latest recruit has been pictured punishing an unmarried woman caught in a hotel room with a man.
The woman was whipped on the back by a member of the flogging squad, wearing a white cloth mask while covered in a brown burqa.
“I think she did a good job. Her technique was nice,” Banda Aceh sharia police chief investigator Zakwan told the Agence France Presse (AFP).
Public whipping with a rattan cane is the punishment for a number of crimes in Aceh, such as drinking alcohol, adultery and having same-sex relations.
As more women have been charged with morality crimes, Aceh has sought to follow precepts in Islamic law which says women should whip females found guilty of violating sharia.
It has taken years to form the region’s first female unit, AFP reported.
“We train them to make sure they’re physically fit and teach them how to do a proper whipping,” Mr Zakwan told the agency.
To get past the mental hurdle of whipping fellow citizens, Mr Zakwan said, you need to look to God.
“It’s kind of an indoctrination that we give to them so they have a better understanding of their role – have no mercy for those who violate God’s law.”
Human rights groups have condemned flogging as a brutal and barbaric method of punishment.
“Flogging people is a brutal and particularly barbaric practice, no matter who carries out the punishment,” Andreas Harsono, Indonesia researcher at Human Rights Watch, told The Independent.
“Flogging – by women or men – has no place in modern Indonesia, and the government of Jakarta should stop turning a blind eye to this torture.”
Last year, a man and a woman were whipped until they passed out in Aceh. The 22-year-old man was beaten unconscious during a punishment of 100 lashings, then resuscitated before the flogging resumed.
In a separate lashing, a woman who was sentenced to 30 lashes fell unconscious during her punishment for being found “in the company of a man other than her male guardian”.
Public canings regularly draw large crowds who are allowed to take photos and record the beatings.
Indonesia’s president, Joko Widodo, has called for the end of public floggings. However, he has little control over Aceh, which was granted a special autonomous status in 2005. (Source: Independent UK)