18 people were publicly caned today Tuesday, March 1 for breaking Islamic law in Indonesia’s Aceh province. Among them was a young unmarried couple who were caught spending time alone together. The punishment was meted out by a hooded man with a rattan cane on a stage next to the mosque in Banda Aceh, before a large, enthusiastic cheering crowd.
According to AP, the young couple aged 19 and 21 were given eight strokes each after they were found spending time alone together, which is against the law for unmarried Muslim couples in the province.
While authorities did not disclose the offenses committed by the others, six young men were also caned 40 times each after they were caught drinking alcohol, which violates Islamic law, at a birthday party in a hotel room.
Public caning happens on a regular basis in Aceh, the only province in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country to implement Islamic syariah law, but is less common for women.
Aceh began implementing shariah law after being granted special autonomy in 2001, an effort by the central government in Jakarta to quell a long-running separatist insurgency.