An Indonesian man who fainted as he was being whipped for pre-marital sex was revived to receive the rest of his punishment before being rushed to hospital.
Despite international condemnation, public flogging is common for a range of offences banned under local Islamic law in the conservative Aceh region on Indonesia’s Sumatra island, including gambling, drinking alcohol, and having gay or pre-marital sex.
Aceh is the only region in Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country, that imposes religious law.
On Thursday, a 22-year-old man – sentenced to 100 strokes – pleaded with a masked Sharia officer to stop lashing his back with a rattan cane before he fainted.
He was revived and given brief medical attention and then the flogging continued. He was later carried off the stage by two guards and rushed to a nearby hospital for treatment.
Some 500 jeering spectators watched the punishment, many filming on their phones as some yelled “harder, harder”.
The man had been found guilty of having sex with a woman who was also sentenced to 100 lashes outside a mosque in Aceh Timur district.
Another man the woman also had relations with also received 100 lashes.
“This is the consequence they have to face for violating the law,” onlooker Muhammad Yunus said.
In July, three people were flogged 100 times each for having premarital sex, while two men caught having sex with underaged girls were also whipped 100 times last year. Other offences tend to carry dozens or even fewer lashes.
Fainting is not uncommon during whippings, where there is often a stretcher waiting in the wings.
officials announced that poachers who threaten endangered orangutans, tigers and other wildlife could receive up to 100 lashes under new rules.
Rights groups have slammed public caning as cruel, and Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has called for it to end, but the practice has widespread support among Aceh’s mostly Muslim population.
More than 90 per cent of the 255 million people who live in Indonesia describe themselves as Muslim, but the vast majority practice a moderate form of the faith.
The brutal and public beatings have become more prevalent in recent years with a number of reported incidents of those being punished collapsing in pain on stage.
Back in September 2014, Aceh approved an anti-homosexuality law that can punish anyone caught having gay sex with 100 lashes.
Engaging in homosexual acts is not a crime under Indonesia’s national criminal code but remains taboo in many conservative parts of the country with the world’s largest Muslim population.
Anybody caught engaging in consensual gay sex is punished with 100 lashes, 100 months in jail or a fine of 1,000 grams of gold.
The law also set out punishment for sex crimes, unmarried people engaging in displays of affection, people caught found guilty of adultery and underage sex.
Religious police in Aceh have been known to target Muslim women without head scarves or those wearing tight clothes, and people drinking alcohol or gambling.
Over the past decade, the central government has devolved more power to regional authorities to increase autonomy and speed up development.
The trend appeared to be slowing down after a string of worrying incidents at the turn of the new year, but the new pictures reveal the practice still looms large in Indonesia.
Men and women have collapsed in pain due to the severity of their injuries and people can be caned for something as innocent as standing too close to a partner in public or being seen alone with someone they are not married to.