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Caning is a particularly painful for of corporal punishment we don’t typically find in many developed countries. Yet the practice is still alive and well in much of the middle east.

This woman was publicly caned in Indonesia this week becasue she was believed to have broken Islamic law by standing too close to her boyfriend. She was struck 23 times.

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To many in the east–and indeed many in Indonesia, the idea that you can’t stand in close proximity to your boyfriend seems ludicrous. Yet the couple’s actions were seen as a violation of sharia law. Unmarried couples are not allowed to show any intimacy in public, and standing beside her boyfriend was judged to be a public display of intimacy.

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The incident occurred in Aceh, the last of Indonesia’s provinces to strictly enforce sharia law. The crowd outside of the mosque where she was flogged jeered and mocked her as she was struck 23 times.

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This woman was just one of 13 people to be caned in the public display. Only one of the people who had been found guilty was spared. She is pregnant, and has been told that her caning will happen after she’s given birth.

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Like many other forms of corporal punishment, caning is intended to create pain without doing serious bodily harm. Unlike spanking or paddling, caning often splits skin and can damage muscle tissue. It often leaves intense scars which become a lifelong reminder of the punishment.

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Incidents like these are part of what fuels anti-Islamic sentiment here in the United States. When immigrants call for implementation of sharia law here in America, this is the code of conduct they’re supporting.

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Even if the punishment for the infractions may not be caning, there’s no practical way to enforce sharia law in an open society that embraces all religious traditions.

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