Here's everything that's wrong with moral vigilantism.
A video taken in West Sumatra on Saturday went viral this week showing a mob of men dragging two women to the beach. The men then forcibly stripped the women and tossed them into the shallow sea in order to bathe them off their sins during the holy month of Ramadan, because apparently the victims committed the great affront of working as karaoke companions – which is synonymous with sex work – at a cafe in South Pesisir Regency.
It turns out that the women were merely customers at the cafe.
The women and their families were especially outraged that someone from the mob filmed the incident and uploaded the video online, leading them to file a police complaint.
The West Sumatra Provincial Police is now on the case.
"I have ordered an investigation. We will handle this from the perspective of sexual violence if [the evidence] points towards that," West Sumatra Police General Crimes Investigation Department Director Andry Kurniawan said.
No arrests have been made as of this article's publication.
Moral vigilantes who publicly shame those they accuse of adultery, premarital sex, or other "immoral acts" (even if such acts were carried out with consent) in Indonesia often go unpunished.
One notable exception from 2018 saw members of a mob in Tangerang imprisoned for stripping a young unmarried couple then parading them through the streets of his neighborhood because they wrongly thought the two were engaging in premarital sex. The male victim was merely bringing food to his fiance's house.