A public caning carried out today in Banda Aceh, the capital city of Aceh province, became the first in the city to feature a woman handling the cane.
Dubbed algojo, which means “executioner” in Indonesian, the unidentified woman was, like her male counterparts before her, shrouded from head to toe in dark cloth, safe for a small slit that leaves her eyes exposed.
The algojo struck a woman, who was identified by her initials LVY (26), with a long rattan cane while city officials and members of the public watched.
LVY was previously caught in a raid at a Banda Aceh hotel by the Wilayatul Hisbah (Religious Police) along with four military personnel and six other civilians, many of whom allegedly consumed meth at the time.
While others caught in the raid may face criminal and military sanctions, LVY was found guilty of being in the same room with men who were not her husband or mahram (unmarriageable kin) and sentenced to eight lashes of the cane. Her lashes were reduced to five as she had served three months in prison in lieu of one lash per month.
LVY’s algojo is set to usher in a new era of women taking part in the highly criticized and cruel punishment in Banda Aceh, as officials say that, in accordance to the qanun (sharia legal statute), those who carry out punishments on convicts must be of the same gender.
Hidayat said that female algojos will be called upon in future canings of women who break religious laws.
Flogging is a common punishment for a range of offenses in the deeply conservative Aceh (the only province with special autonomy to enforce sharia law), including adultery, drinking alcohol, and having gay or pre-marital sex.
In July, three people were flogged 100 times each for having premarital sex, while last year saw two men caught having sex with underaged girls whipped 100 times.
Rights groups have slammed public caning as a cruel and inhuman punishment, and Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has called for it to end.
But the practice has wide support among Aceh’s mostly Muslim population.