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Three Indonesian Couples Publicly Flogged For Displaying Public Affection

© AP Photo / Heri JuandaIn this Monday, March 20, 2017 photo, a Sharia law official whips a man convicted of adultery with a rattan cane in Banda Aceh, Indonesia.
In this Monday, March 20, 2017 photo, a Sharia law official whips a man convicted of adultery with a rattan cane in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. - Sputnik International
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Three couples in Indonesia's Aceh province were publicly flogged Thursday for displaying affection in public, an act strictly outlawed in the conservative region.

Under Sharia, or Muslim religious law, drinking alcohol, adultery, homosexuality, gambling and any displays of affection outside of marriage are outlawed. Aceh is the only Indonesian province to officially enforce such a code, even though other districts across Indonesia are also implementing Sharia-influenced laws.

According to Gulf News, a masked officer in Aceh flogged each one of the three men and three women between 20 and 22 times using a rattan cane. All six people had already spent several months in prison for displaying public affection. The punishment took place in the provincial capital Banda Aceh in front of a mosque, where onlookers could watch the flogging.

"I'm nervous because this is the first time I've seen something like this," Malaysian visitor Muhammad Rushdy is quoted as saying by Gulf News.

"But it can serve as an important lesson for us from other countries to comply with local regulations," he added.

According to Banda Aceh Mayor Aminullah Usman, flogging can help deter others from breaking the law. 

"But we keep telling visitors not to be afraid to visit Banda Aceh ... because you won't be flogged if you don't break the law," Usman is quoted as saying by Gulf News.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has repeatedly demanded that the Indonesian government eradicate Sharia in Aceh, also warning that it is on the rise in Indonesia’s Aceh province.

According to HRW, some 339 people in 2016 received multiple lashes of the cane for various violations of Sharia law in Aceh. That year was the first full year that the law was implemented since it went into effect in September 2015.

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