Shocking news emerged from the heavily Islamic province of Aceh of Indonesia after reports of two Christian men being flogged for breaking Islamic rules.
According to Agence France Press (AFP), a masked officer whipped the men 40 times on her backs with a stick on Monday in view of the public.
The two men had been drinking alcohol and gambling – a criminal offense under Islamic sharia law. One of the men, named JF, said he chose flogging over receiving criminal charges and the possibility of up to six months in jail.
"The sharia police gave us options and we consciously decided to comply with the Islamic criminal code," JF said to AFP.
Indonesia has the world's largest population of Muslims. Flogging of non-Muslims is unusual in most parts of the country, however, there have been several instances over the past few years where individuals were whipped for committing adultery or consuming alcohol, AFP reports.
But Andreas Harsono, an Indonesian researcher at Human Rights Watch, told The Independent that flogging is a cruel and inhumane form of punishment.
"Flogging people is a brutal and particularly barbaric practice, no matter who carries out the punishment," Harsono said.
While some may claim this violent whipping is a rare practice, Indonesia has gone to the trouble of training female floggers to punish women who violate harsh Islamic law.
Banda Aceh sharia police chief investigator Zakwan said, "We train them to make sure they're physically fit and teach them how to do a proper whipping. It's kind of an indoctrination that we give to them so they have a better understanding of their role – have no mercy for those who violate God's (Allah's) law."