Young and in love in Indonesia? Beware, the sharia police are watching

Activists monitoring the implementation of sharia law say abuses are on the rise, especially those committed by self-declared guardians of the law. Destika Gilang Lestari, director of the local human rights NGO, Kontras, says her organisation has recorded many cases of vigilante raids, in which young men often take it on themselves to punish offenders as it pleases them. “A couple was pushed into the river in Banda Aceh just a couple of weeks ago. People get beaten up, doused with sewage water, and they’re often too scared to report it,” says Destika Gilang Lestari, who called the Langsa case a “barbaric act” and asked for the heaviest possible punishment. She says perpetrators too often remain unpunished, leading to a “misinterpretation” by vigilantes of what they’re allowed to do.

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