Jim Kouri
Women beaten in Malaysia under Shariah law
By Jim Kouri
February 19, 2010

As a result of Shariah law being imposed in Malaysia, Muslim women were caned on Tuesday for engaging in illicit sex, a serious crime under strict Muslim law.

The three women are reportedly the first to receive such a brutal punishment under Shariah law. According to the Home Minister, Datuk Hishmmudin Hussein, two of the women were struck six times while the third was hit four times with a "cane" or "rotan." The punishment was meted out at Malaysia's Kajang federal prison.

Under Islamic rule, Malaysians have witnessed an increase in canings as a result of the nation moving from a secular legal system to one based on the Koran and the teachings of radical imams. Many were shocked to learn that last Summer a 32-year old woman — Kartika Shukarno — was sentenced to be caned for the crime of consuming an alcoholic beverage. While the violent sentence created a firestorm in the country, Shukarno is still awaiting the execution of the caning sentence.

Originally, Malaysia was a federal constitutional elective monarchy. The system of government in Malaysia was closely modeled on that of Westminster parliamentary system, a legacy of British colonial rule. Since independence in 1957, Malaysia has been governed by a multi-party coalition known as The Alliance.

Legislative power was divided between federal and state legislatures. The parliament consisted of the lower house, the House of Representatives (literally the "Chamber of the People"), and the upper house, the Senate (literally the "Chamber of the Nation").

The Malaysian constitution guarantees religious freedom. However, The jurisdiction of Shariah court is becoming more powerful over matters such as marriage, inheritance, conversion and child custody. Despite being the supreme courts of the land, the Civil Courts (including the Federal Court) in principle cannot overrule any decision made by the Shariah Courts.

Hishammuddin claimed that he decided to bring to public attention the punishment given to the three women because there had been "too much hype" over Kartika's sentence.

"People are saying that no woman has been caned before and that Kartika should not be caned. Today I am announcing that we have already done it. There is no hidden agenda, we are merely executing our responsibility," he stated during a press conference yesterday.

The staunch Muslim minister declared that the three women did not suffer any cuts or abrasions from their beatings but assured the media that the punishment had a rehabilitative effect.

"They have all repented. They are also hoping that others will not go against the teachings of the religion," he said, adding that the sentence was meted out according to Islamic rules.

Last month, the three women were found guilty of fornication by the Federal Shariah High Court sentenced to public caning

Minister Hishammuddin assured reporters that one of the women was released last Sunday after spending a month in prison. A second woman is expected to be released later this week, while the third is serving the rest of her jail term and is expected to be freed in June 2010.

Malaysian officials with the Malaysia Penal Department claim they have advisors who are experts from the Islamic Development Department, the Shariah Law Department and the Federal Prosecutor's Office to make certain the sentences are carried out according to recognized Islamic law.

The ministry agreed on the procedure for the caning of Muslim women offenders for Shariah offenses on December 4, 2010.

"I hope there will be no more issues arising from the caning sentence which can be imposed by the Shariah Court on Muslim women to protect the sanctity of Islam," Hishammuddin told reporters.

"Look at the message behind the punishment. Illicit sex could easily lead to other social ills such as abortion and baby dumping. The punishment serves as a proposed solution for other social problems," he added.

© Jim Kouri


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Jim Kouri

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police... (more)


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