Many Indonesians support vigilante actions against those found breaking laws, be those laws criminal or moral. While adultery can be illegal here under certain circumstances, attacking a man, stripping him of his clothes and forcing him to march through public naked is also illegal (except under certain circumstances, apparently).
Yesterday afternoon, a group of people did just that to a man in Bangunrejo Village, located in the Sukorejo District of East Java’s Ponorogo Region. Local police arrested the man and his lover for adultery, but did not announce any criminal charges against the people who abused the couple.
The man, a 44-year-old widower identified as GU. was allegedly having an adulterous affair with a 45-year-old woman, SU, who is married to a different man. According to a report by beritajatim.com, the two have been suspected of having an illicit relationship by neighborhood busybodies for as long as 7 months, with one of SU’s neighbors saying her husband worked as a mechanic during the day, which is often when GU went to her house.
Yesterday afternoon, a group of local youths caught GU as he was leaving SU’s house through the back door, allegedly after the two had been intimate.
According to local reports, the youths were shocked to see GU, somebody called him a thief and he was quickly set upon by a mass of locals.
“After being mistaken for a thief, (GU) was then detained by locals and beaten. Furthermore, (GU) was stripped naked and paraded to the head of Bangunrejo Village, which is 500 meters from the house of (SU),” Ponorogo Police Chief Suryo Sudarmadi said as quoted by Solopos.
Local reports indicate the group also forced SU to march to the village head’s house alongside GU, though she was allowed to keep her clothes on.
At the village head’s house, GU was given a sarong to cover his body and members of the Suksejo Police came to charge the pair with adultery. There was no mention in any of the media reports about whether any of the vigilantes would be charged with assaulting GU.
While adultery (in the generic sense of two people who are not married to each other having sex) is generally not illegal in Indonesia, cheating on a married spouse actually is (and not just in sharia-enforcing Aceh). However, due to the way it is categorized as a crime, it can only become a criminal act if it is reported by a spouse (not the police or the general public). So, presumably, SU’s husband would have had to file charges against the two.
While other forms of adultery are generally not illegal in regions of Indonesia outside Aceh, certain conservative groups in Indonesia are currently using a Constitutional Court review to try and make all forms of adultery illegal (including, or perhaps especially, homosexual relations) in Indonesia in accordance with sharia law.