Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Anwar condemns caning of women, says it 'lacked due process and understanding'

Sep 05. 2018
File photo : Anwar Ibrahim//AFP
File photo : Anwar Ibrahim//AFP
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By The Star
Asia News Network

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PETALING JAYA: PKR president-elect Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim criticised the caning of the two women convicted of lesbian sex, saying that it lacked due process and understanding.
“I’m a practising Muslim, but I don’t share that interpretation and certainly that sort of action to publicly cane without proper due process and understanding,” Anwar said during a press conference in Makati City on Tuesday (Sept 4).
On Aug 12, the Terengganu Syariah High Court fined the women RM3,300 and ordered that they be caned six times each for committing musahaqah (sexual relations between women) under Section 30 of the Syariah Criminal Offences Enactment (Takzir) (Terengganu).

The sentence was carried out Monday (Sept 3) in court, witnessed by some 100 people, including the media. 




The accused, aged 22 and 32, were led to a stool where two female officers from the Kajang Women's prison carried out the sentence in turns. The caning for such an offence is believed to be the first to be carried out in the state.

Anwar insisted that he is not against Syariah Law, but maintained that it was important to put focus on the "high objectives of the Syariah".

“What are the higher objectives of the shariah? To ensure peace and security, justice, tolerance, education and understanding. That is not being done,” he said.

He added that one has to be careful when commenting on such issues, for fear of being labelled as "anti-Islam".

"Let us debate, and not insist that your interpretation is correct ... even if it is, is that the priority? These are questions that must be the dynamics within the Muslim communities before you embark upon the application of the Syariah," said Anwar.

The incident has sparked quite a backlash, especially from civil society.

Justice for Sisters and Sisters in Islam on Monday (Sept 3) said that Malaysia's laws are inconsistent in relation to the caning of women.

"Section 289 of the Criminal Procedure Code prohibits corporal punishment against female prisoners of any age. However, provisions under the Syariah Law allow women to be caned.

"These inconsistencies create confusion in the jurisdiction of the Prison Department thus directly affecting the rights of women in Malaysia protected by Article 8(2) of the Federal Constitution against gender discrimination," the NGOs said.

The Human Right Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) also strongly condemned the caning , and called for all corporal punishment to end.

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