Women caned in Malaysia for attempting to have lesbian sex

Aaron Brown
September 5, 2018

Campaigners told AFP that Monday's caning was the first time two women have been punished for same-sex relations.

The sentence was carried out in front of about 100 people at the Sharia High Court in Terengganu, a conservative state ruled by the Islamist opposition party Pan-Malaysian Islamist Party (PAS), according to a report by English-language daily the New Straits Times.

"People are afraid because this is the first time that two women are being caned for sexual acts", she told CNN.

Malaysia has a dual-track legal system, with civil law applying to everybody, but Islamic criminal and family laws applicable to Muslims.

The pair, whose identities have not been revealed, pleaded guilty last month to breaking Islamic laws and were sentenced to six strokes of the cane each and a fine of 3,300 ringgit (26,000 baht).

Muslim Lawyers' Association deputy president Abdul Rahim Sinwan defended the caning of the two unidentified women, insisting that the punishment under Islamic law isn't painful and was meant to teach the women to repent.

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KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 4 ― Those who disagree with state laws enabling public caning of Muslim offenders should push for the laws to be changed in the state legislative assemblies, Parti Amanah Negara communications director Khalid Samad said today.

Amnesty International Malaysia said: "Caning is a form of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and may amount to torture".

The Justice for Sisters activist said the group was concerned the case would set a risky precedent for the increased policing of morality and sexual identities in Malaysia. The most shocking fact was also that the duo were caned in public among hundred of onlookers. This case shows a regression for human rights.

Khairy Jamaluddin, the MP for Rembau, criticised the punishment on his Twitter account, saying: "Islam teaches us to look after the dignity of every human being". "And that mercy is preferable to punishment." .

Rights groups assailed the new government for discrimination against gay men and lesbians and for continuing to allow a form of corporal punishment outlawed in most of the world. "The caning of the two women is a awful reminder of the depth of discrimination and criminalisation that LGBTI people face in the country", the non-governmental organisation said.

A spokesperson from the transgender rights group, Justice for Sisters, believed the caning would "increase the impunity of perpetrators to carry out acts of violence" against gay people. Just a week earlier, Malaysia's religious affairs minister ordered the removal of portraits of LGBT activists from an arts festival in Penang, telling reporters, "We do not support the promotion of LGBT culture in Malaysia".

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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