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Caning of Muslim women was legal: DPM

Sentuhan Bayu: What I find interesting thing is, why muslim men get away when they get caught drinking. Don't tell me those 'dato' don't drink. I'd like to see Syariah court punishing them too. 

PUTRAJAYA: Religious authorities must properly explain the issue of caning Muslim women who committed syariah offences to avoid the sentence from being viewed negatively by both the local and international communities, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said.

The Deputy Prime Minister said many, including Malaysians, were horrified at the idea of a woman being caned because they did not know how it was executed

He claimed this was because many perceived the punishment as being similar to how caning is carried out against criminal offenders charged in civil courts.

“The caning punishment meted out by the Syariah court is legal and how the international community looks at it, is up to them.

“But I believe it is important that authorities make an effort to explain the procedure because it is far different from the impression many have.

“While the caning sentence meted out by civil courts can cause hurt and sometimes even death, caning according to Syariah law is light. It is more to educate and remind Muslims to honour and abide by their religion,” he said after chairing the Cabinet committee on human capital development on Friday.

On Wednesday, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein announced that three women had been caned on Feb 9 at the Kajang Prison under Section 23 (2) of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act 1997 for having illicit sex.

The trio became the first women in the country to be caned for committing syariah offences.

Malaysia had already gained international attention when the Syariah court sentenced part-time model Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno to caning for drinking beer in July last year.

The sentence against the 33-year-old had yet to be executed when the issue of caning women ignited not only fierce debate among locals but also the international community when the announcement of the three Muslim women being caned came out.

The three were aged between 18 and the mid-20s. Two of them were whipped six times and the third was given four strokes of the rotan at Kajang Prison.

All Women’s Action Society (Awam) president Sofia Lim Siu Ching said the Home Ministry needed to explain why the punishment was carried out in secret, The Star Online reported Thursday.

“The expediency and the secrecy reek of bad faith and betray a troubling disregard for public opinion on an issue that has drawn attention around the globe,” she said in a statement Thursday.

Sisters in Islam (SIS) executive director Dr Hamidah Marican said the three cases constituted further discrimination against Muslim women in Malaysia.

“It violates constitutional guarantees of equality and non-discrimination as the whipping of women under Syariah Criminal Offences legislation contradicts civil law where women are not punishable by caning under Section 289 of the Criminal Procedure Code,” she said.

Dr Hamidah asked whether the men involved were similarly caned, The Star Online reported.

“We urge the Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil to take immediate steps to address the unresolved issues arising from the sentence carried out on these women and the Kartika case.”

Bar Council chairman Ragunath Kesavan urged the Government to immediately review and abolish all forms of punishment involving whipping and to comply with international norms and principles on it.

However, Muhyiddin believes that with better understanding and knowledge of how the process was executed, the issue of women being caned for committing religious offences would not be a “sensational issue.”

“The Government is willing to assist the religious authorities on the matter. If the caning method is properly explained, there will be no misperception or a skewed view on how and why Muslim women are being caned if they are guilty of not adhering to Islamic laws,” he said.


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