Malaysiakini Letter

LFL: Abhorrent act of publicly caning two women for lesbian act is unacceptable and unIslamic

Latheefa Koya  |  Published:  |  Modified:

LETTER | We are horrified to learn that the Terengganu Syariah Court, with the assistance of prison officers, administered the caning of two women in front of 100 people for the “offence” of attempting to have lesbian sex.

The Syariah Court had the audacity to justify its actions, stating that the caning does not “hurt” the women or that the privacy of the offenders were “protected” as they had private doors to enter and exit the court premises. It’s an utterly ridiculous statement when you take into account that the punishment was carried out in the presence of 100 people which included curious bystanders, not to mention the mental anguish that these women must have suffered through this ordeal.

This abhorrent “punishment” does not bode well for the way Islam in Malaysia is progressing.

It must be noted, lesbianism, or homosexuality as a whole, is not a crime under hudud. At most, it would be a crime under ta’zir. Furthermore, it is important to note that during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad, there was no record of anyone being publicly caned or punished for homosexuality.

Hence, this degrading and humiliating punishment is in fact, unIslamic, for even with “sinners,” Islam emphasizes heavily on the concept of mercy and the protection of the privacy and dignity of individuals.

The legality of the punishment itself is also questionable. Under the Prison Act 1955 and Prison Regulations 2000, the punishment of caning can only be administered to prisoners, and the women at the time of punishment were not prisoners as defined by the law. The Syariah Court seems to have overstepped its bounds.

Even that aside, the fact that the caning was carried out in public is entirely unnecessary and cruel.

Ironically, this thirst for punishment is affecting Islam more negatively than any sinful act can. Punishment is not the answer here, and executing degrading punishments on sinners is unacceptable.

Acts transgressing human rights under the pretext of Islam is a disservice to the religion and its role as the paragon of justice and equality.

The writer is the executive director of Lawyers for Liberty.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.


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