3 Muslim women caned in Malaysia
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Authorities in Malaysia caned three Muslim women for having extramarital sex, making them the first women in the country to receive such punishment under Islamic law, an official said yesterday.
The caning of women has fueled debate about whether Islamic conservatism was intruding into people’s personal lives in this moderate Muslim-majority country.
Another woman, Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, a 32-year-old mother of two, was sentenced to caning last year for drinking beer.
Kartika’s sentence has not been carried out, but authorities at a women’s prison near Kuala Lumpur on Feb. 9 caned three other Muslim women who had been convicted in an Islamic sharia court for having sex outside marriage, according to a Home Ministry official. They did not explain why the punishment was announced only yesterday.
Each woman received between four and six strokes of a rattan cane, the official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to make public statements.
Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein announced the caning earlier yesterday. He did not release their names or say when they had been sentenced but said one of the women was released last week after spending a month in prison.
Home Ministry officials did not describe where on their bodies they received the strokes, but authorities have previously said women would be caned with a thin stick on the back.
Malaysia has a dual-track justice system. Sharia laws apply to Muslims, who account for nearly two-thirds of Malaysia’s 28 million people, in all personal matters. Non-Muslims - Chinese, Indians, Sikhs, and other minorities - are covered by civil laws only.