Wanita MCA has called out the Terengganu PAS government, saying it must cease its "gender-bias fetish of lashing women" in light of the recent caning sentence imposed by the Syariah High Court in Kuala Terengganu against a single mother for offering sexual services.
Wanita MCA vice-chairperson Ong Chong Swen said the decision by the court warranted the highest criticism, and the judge should have taken into account the fact it was the woman's first such offence and her claim that she had not been receiving financial support from her ex-husband.
"If the Syariah judge opines that whipping the mother within prison confines is more humane and will reduce the infamy, public humiliation and outrage of the unconstitutional punishment, he is grossly mistaken.
"This current fetish by the Terengganu Syariah judges to impose flogging sentences against women has to cease.
"No mother desires to sell her body to put food on the table for her hungry child unless she is in such a deprived situation.
"Does the judge sit on such a high pedestal that he fails to comprehend the mother’s need to survive from day to day?" Ong said in a statement today.
Ong opined that appropriate action would have been for the woman to be let off with a warning and instead be referred to the national and state welfare departments so she could receive financial assistance.
She added: "Why are there no efforts to trace and compel her errant and tardy ex-husband to be responsible for alimony payments to his ex-wife and their daughter?
The 30-year-old single mother from Selangor was yesterday sentenced to six strokes of the rotan and a six-month jail term after she pleaded guilty to offering sexual services to a man.
The court also ordered that she be whipped at the prison where she will be held after 14 days if she did not appeal the sentence.
The case followed the caning of two women in a public gallery of the courtroom at the Kuala Lumpur Syariah High Court earlier this month for engaging in same-sex relations.
The earlier case drew criticism from rights groups and politicians, even receiving a rebuke from cabinet with Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad deeming the sentence inappropriate.
Mahathir said the sentence "did not reflect well on Islam" and that the two women should have been advised rather than punished, as they were first-time offenders.