A few months ago, the (literally) shitty punishment forced on a couple accused of allegedly getting intimate out of wedlock in Aceh shocked and disgusted the world, even by the ultra conservative province's standards. A new incident shows that punishment was not an isolated act of mob justice.
On Saturday, self-appointed moral vigilantes in a village in the city of Langsa raided the home of a 30-year-old woman, identified by her initials DK, on suspicion that she has been engaging in an extramarital affair with her boss, the head of the city's Regional Development Planning Board (Bappeda), identified only by his initials TSF.
Video footage of what happened next went viral online, showing the vigilantes pouring pail upon pail of comberan (raw sewage) water from an open sewage stream onto the couple.
Langsa Islamic Sharia Agency Head Ibrahim Latif confirmed the incident, saying the local vigilantes were outraged by DK and TSF's alleged adultery and that they saw the sewage water bath as a befitting punishment.
"So the culprit (TSF) often went to the house of the woman, according to locals. Maybe, after a long time of peeping on them, the locals got angry because they were deemed to have engaged in immoral acts. The locals were angry because when the couple was interrogated they could not keep their answers straight. It has become a norm in villages like that," he told Kumparan today.
Ibrahim added that TSF attempted to calm the mob down, telling them that he and DK had performed a nikah siri (a marriage sanctioned by religion but not by the state) in South Sumatra and showed them the certificate. However, the vigilantes questioned the validity of the certificate and proceeded to dump sewage water on TSF and DK anyway.
Islamic Sharia Agency officials came to take TSF and DK into custody after the inhumane public shaming. The agency is now looking into the authenticity of their marriage certificate, and will attempt a mediation between the couple and the mob should it be proven to be real. Should the certificate be fake, TSF and DK could be further punished by publicly being caning in accordance with the province's religious bylaws.
Either way, things won't end well for TSF because if he is found to have married a second wife, he will face sanctions from the city administration because polygamy is not permissible for civil servants according to national regulations. Not a single person from the mob has reportedly been arrested.
As the only province in Indonesia that is allowed to enact explicitly sharia-based laws, Aceh criminalizes everything from selling alcohol to homosexuality to adultery and even the simple act of two unmarried people of the opposite sex being too close to each other. The local government and religious police encourage citizens to snoop on each other to report these crimes, leading to frequent acts of moral vigilantism that rarely go punished.