Jakarta – The human rights group Amnesty International urged Indonesia on Thursday to abolish caning after two women were struck about 100 times each as punishment for offering prostitution online.
The women were caned publicly on Monday in Langsa city after they were found to have violated Shariah law in Indonesia's deeply conservative Aceh province. They were arrested in March along with five alleged sex workers.
Amnesty International Indonesia Executive Director Usman Hamid said caning is "a cruel and inhumane practice that causes both physical and mental trauma. It is a punishment that must never be normalized nor tolerated."
Aceh is the only province in Muslim-majority Indonesia that practices Shariah law, a concession made by the central government in 2001 as part of efforts to end a decades-long war for independence.
Hundreds of people have been publicly caned since the punishment was introduced in Aceh in 2005.
In a statement, Hamid urged the Indonesian government "to repeal all regulations that contradict international law and standards. We are also calling on the government to repeal all regulations which criminalize or otherwise punish sex workers and introduce legal protections from intimidation."
Offenses that are punishable by caning include same-sex sexual relations, premarital sex and other sexual relations outside marriage, consumption of alcohol, gambling, sexual abuse, rape and accusing a person of adultery without providing four witnesses.