Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Proving Rape in Sharia Law

Fundamentalist Islam has its moral standards and they are not to be toyed with. There are stern punishments in store for those who betray the social covenant of strict separation between men and women. Women who dare flaunt those rules pit themselves against the certainty of dire punishment should they be caught out. And in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, a 25-year-old widow had been discovered in the presence of a man not of her family.

Sharia law ... A woman is caned in Aceh for selling food during Ramadan in October. A woman and a man will soon be caned publicly for adultery. Sharia law ... A woman is caned in Aceh for selling food during Ramadan in October. A woman and a man will soon be caned publicly for adultery. Photo: AFP

The unnamed woman is likely to be caned in public as punishment for violating Islamic law, according to an official. When she was found in the company of a married man in her home, the eight men who had entered her house to confront the pair beat the man, then threw sewage over the man and woman in their first humiliation, before turning them in to Islamic police in Lhokbani, in East Aceh district.

Ibrahim Latief, the head of Islamic Shariah law there, advised that his office has judged it appropriate that both the widow and the married man be caned nine times for violating religious law. And that to take place before an investigation, on the basis of the preliminary finding that the two were judged to be preparing to have sex. It was pointed out by the cleric, however, that simply by being in the same room together they had violated Shariah law.

Although the world's most populous Muslim nation of 240-million people has a secular government policy, Aceh province on the northern tip of Sumatra is permitted the implementation of a version of Sharia Islamic law. The woman in question was also gang-raped by the very men who accused her of having extra-marital sex with the man she was found with. One of the accused is a 13-year-old boy. Three of the accused have so far been arrested on charges of rape.

Prosecution will take place in a closed-door trial. The clerical authority, Ibrahim Latief, advised that the eight men could also be caned for raping the woman. "It will be too lenient if they just received the same punishment of nine strokes", he added thoughtfully in a country like Indonesia where the criminal charge of rape carries a maximum penalty of 15 years. On the other hand, a woman who is raped must 'prove' she has been raped, and Sharia courts accept as proof only the testimony of two male witnesses.

How likely is that to proceed?

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