******************Aceh 'vice and virtue' police accused of raping student
January 16, 2010
JAKARTA: Three members of a newly formed civilian patrol to enforce sharia, or Islamic law, in Aceh province of Indonesia have been accused of gang-raping a 20-year-old university student.
The attack allegedly occurred this month at a police station after the patrol members, known as the sharia police, took the woman into custody. Two men, aged 27 and 29, have been arrested and one is still being sought, authorities said.
Activists say the accusation deals a blow to the credibility of the controversial sharia police patrols.
''They don't have the authority to detain people; their role is to give moral advice, that's it,'' said the director of Aceh's human rights coalition, Norma Manalu. ''They misused their power.''
Aceh recently created ''vice and virtue'' patrols to enforce religious codes across the only province in the nation to employ sharia for its criminal code. Sharia was introduced in 2002 after the province was granted autonomy as part of efforts to end a decades-long guerilla war. Supervisors say the sharia police consider themselves the community's public conscience.
In September, Aceh's parliament passed a law saying people who commit adultery can be sentenced to death by stoning.
The law, which must still be approved by the province's governor, has outraged human-rights groups, which say it will be used unfairly against women.
The suspects allegedly stopped a couple by a road. The victim's father said his daughter's friend was beaten by the suspects and the two were then taken to a nearby sharia police station.
The suspects later returned while off duty and raped the woman, investigators said.
''She was treated like an animal; they suffocated and raped her - it was inhumane,'' the victim's father said. ''She is in deep trauma.''
The head of the 1500- member sharia police force, Marzuki Abdullah, said the case was not linked to the patrols because any crime the officers committed was while they were off duty.
Activists say the case should bring a review of the patrols.
''Are they really needed to judge our morality?'' Ms Manalu asked.
''We don't have any guarantees that they have a higher moral standard than us.''
And it's bloody obvious they certainly don't.
No worries, Malaysians, we have our very own – see my earlier 2007 post What lies behind City Hall's brutalities? especially the yellow highlighted portions.