Progress marches inexorably across the globe, leaving no corner untouched. It pleases me to inform you that it has now reached parts of Malaysia and also Indonesia’s autonomous Aceh province.
Aceh is ruled by Sharia law, which tends to fall somewhat short of our exacting standards of women’s equality. The gap between Sharia and Western feminism hasn’t been completely closed, but I know you’ll join me in celebrating the growing proximity between the two.
In Aceh, the religious law is getting not only more feminist, but also more lenient. This, however, is mainly due to intercession on the part of the central government.
The local officials felt that only beheading or, at a pinch, stoning was a fitting punishment for hanky-panky. However, because of the global reach of the Internet, Indonesia’s government felt that might besmirch Indonesia’s otherwise sterling reputation.
Hence it stepped in, and the locals had to settle for less terminal chastisement involving a rattan cane. As far as transgressors are concerned, this was definitely a step in the right direction.
Crimes thus punished include gambling, adultery, drinking, homosexuality and extramarital sex, and, this still being a remote corner of the world, women are held to stricter standards of probity.
I don’t know whether the Koran says “spare the rod and spoil the woman”, but in any case Muslim men jealously guard the morality of their womenfolk. Hence a woman can be caned not only for having sex with a man other than her husband, but also for sitting close to a man in a coffee shop – even at adjacent tables.
Yet this isn’t a case of one punishment fitting all crimes: the number of lashes varies from just a few to 150, with the higher number guaranteeing that the lesson will last a lifetime, which in this case may be measured in days.
Where’s the feminism in that? you may wonder, having been irresistibly intrigued by the title above. Thought you’d never ask.
You see, until now both men and women have been invariably caned by men. However, the innate Muslim sense of justice prevailed, and Aceh struck a blow (as it were) for equality.
Henceforth women will be lashed by other women, those belonging to the newly formed flogging squad of Aceh’s Sharia Implementation Unit. Actually, recruiting the necessary numbers took quite some time because some women were too infirm in their faith to take on the task with alacrity.
However, the vacancies were eventually filled, and the new recruits underwent rigorous training. An important part of it isn’t only physical fitness but also mental strength.
According to Sharia police chief investigator Zakwan, the floggers must be trained to “have no mercy for those who violate God’s law”. That taken care of, they can concentrate on mastering proper technique.
The first woman flogger has already practised her newly acquired skill, earning a compliment from Mr Zakwan. “Her technique was nice,” he said.
I agree. Her technique was indeed nice, but it could still be improved. Perfection, after all, is unattainable in this world, being the sole prerogative of Allah.
This is where I think I could help by offering unsolicited advice. For I couldn’t help noticing that the cane is wielded in a manner similar to the flat forehand in tennis.
So, defying the outdated notion of “East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet”, those devout female floggers should borrow a stroke from the infidel game of tennis.
Two words provide the key to achieving proper weight distribution and maximum cane speed at impact: kinetic chain.
In layman’s terms, this means putting all the relevant muscle groups to work by activating them in turn. The kinetic chain starts with the so-called unit turn: the flogger turns her shoulders, naturally taking the cane back, bends her knees slightly and loads up her back leg by putting most of her weight on it.
Having completed the backswing, she then steps forward, rotating her shoulders and hips in the same direction. As her weight is transferred onto her front leg, she starts the forward swing of the cane, keeping her wrist slightly cocked.
The speed at which the cane moves through the air should increase gradually, starting slow and reaching its maximum at impact. At that last moment, the wrist uncocks with a natural snap, guaranteeing most satisfying agony on the part of the target.
Since the stroke is essentially flat, there’s no immediate need to swing from low to high. However, at a more advanced stage, that element could be added for an extra slashing effect. Allah will rejoice, but the simpler technique will do to be going on with for the time being.
I’d offer my hands-on coaching services, but Penelope put her foot down. “Over my dead body,” she said. Not yours, dear. Over the bodies of those dissipated women who dare choose the wrong seat at a coffee shop.