Muslim woman receiving caning
Malaysia may organize an international conference on the issue of caning and whether it is an appropriate punishment for women under Islamic law. Women’s Minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil said in a statement Tuesday that she would seek Cabinet approval to hold such a conference.
Prison authorities had caned three unmarried Muslim women this month after a Shariah, or Islamic, court in Kuala Lumpur found them guilty of having “sex out of wedlock.”
Shahrizat said she plans to invite ministers from other Muslim-majority countries, academics and religious experts to exchange “ideas and experiences with regards to the implementation of Shariah law.”
The three women who were caned reportedly had turned themselves in to Islamic authorities after becoming pregnant by their boyfriends. They defended the punishment, saying it gave them a chance to repent, according to local government-linked media.
The government, too, has insisted that caning serves a purpose and is not meant to physically harm the women. But women and other rights groups say caning Muslim women is cruel, degrading and discriminatory.
Authorities use a light rattan stick to hit women on their backs while they are fully clothed.
Caning men is common in Malaysia for such offenses as rape, drug trafficking and illegally staying in the country. The strokes with a thick rattan cane on bare buttocks inflict wounds and leave scars.
Civil law forbids caning women and children, but Malaysia has a two-tier justice system. Muslims, who make up 60% of the country’s 28 million people, go to Shariah courts for personal matters, while civil courts judge non-Muslims, mostly ethnic Chinese and Indians.
Via USA Today