Transgender women in Indonesia are being forced to dress in male clothing and speak in a masculine voice after a police swoop on hairdressers and beauty salons.

Police in conservative Aceh province arrested 12 employees for allegedly teasing a group of boys and breaking religious laws on Sunday (28 January), according to the Mail.

"We have reports from mothers that their sons were teased by the transgender women," police chief Ahmad Untung Surianata said. "Their numbers are growing here - I don't want that."

Aceh is a strictly Muslim province and flogging people is a common punishment, especially for gay men. Homosexuality is legal throughout Indonesia, except Aceh.

The transgender women were held for several days by police before they were forced to undergo a training regime that would make them more "manly". Their hair was cut, they were made to wear suitable male clothing and they had to speak in a deeper tone.

"We want to change their mentality so they can be better people," Surianata said.

Police in Aceh regularly arrest and punish those deemed to break the strict sharia law observed in the province. On 19 January, Jono Simbolon was arrested for illegally selling alcohol and was struck 36 times with a rattan stick as a large crowd watched. Simbolon, a Christian, was forced to kneel as a masked man whipped him repeatedly outside a mosque in Aceh.

He was seen doubling over in agony during the whipping. It was reported that after 10 lashes, a doctor had to check on him before allowing the beatings to continue.

Chief prosecutor Erwin Desman said that being a non-Muslim, Simbolon always had a choice to be prosecuted under national or religious law. He added that the offender may have chosen a public beating to avoid a lengthy criminal prosecution.