Aceh’s Shariah Police ‘Stained Forever’ by Gang Rape
Banda Aceh. Having gang-raped and tortured a female student at the Langsa Shariah Police station in Aceh, the three officers responsible have forever blackened the name of the religious police as upholders of Islamic law, Aceh’s Shariah Police deputy commander said on Wednesday.
“We are enraged by this. We are ashamed by their actions. The shock is still there. The actions of these three individuals have marred the image of Shariah Police in the eyes of the Acehnese forever,” Syarifuddin told The Jakarta Globe.
“They should have been role models for upholding Islamic law but their actions did not in any way reflect the behavior of men of honor,” he added.
Police have arrested two of the alleged rapists, members of the Wilayatul Hisbah or Shariah Police, and are tracking down a third officer, who has already been declared a suspect.
The three officers had allegedly taken turns raping a 20-year-old student in a police detention cell in the early hours of Friday morning. Friday is considered “a day of goodness” in Islam and afternoon prayers on Friday are mandatory for Muslims.
The two officers in custody, identified only by their initials as FA, 28, and MN, 29, continue to be questioned over the “arrest” of the university student.
The victim was taken into custody for allegedly engaging in an immoral act with her boyfriend on Jalan Lingkar, near the PTPN-I Langsa ring road. Both the girl and her boyfriend were brought in by police and questioned over the alleged violation of the Shariah Public Indecency Law 2003.
“There is a manhunt across Aceh for the third suspect,” Langsa Police Chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Yosi Muhammartha said.
He said the three officers under suspicion had been hired on a contract basis.
A medical examination confirmed that the victim had been grievously sexually assaulted and that she had suffered a severe hemorrhage as a result of the rape.
“This is now a top priority case for us, considering that the suspects have completely humiliated the Shariah Police,” Yosi said.
Syarifuddin added that the authority of the provincial Shariah Police was restricted to coordination alone and that police at the district and community levels acted of their own accord.
“The individuals involved in the rape had been hired by the chief of Langsa Shariah Police, not by us at the provincial level,” he said. He insisted his office had sent recruitment guidelines to every Shariah district police precinct, which included requiring candidates to pass psychological screening and a religious knowledge test.
“But not every region abides by the rules we set up,” Syarifuddin said. He added that the recruitment process would be made more stringent in future to avoid similar incidents occurring again. “We will not intervene in the current investigations and hope that [the suspects] get heavy sentences,” he said.
In 2003, Aceh province opened its first Shariah court, which implements laws based on Islamic teachings. These laws cover almost all elements of life in the province, including obligating Muslim women to wear a jilbab.
Any Muslim who breaks these rules can be sentenced to a public caning or a fine.