PUTRAJAYA: Three Muslim women were caned last Tuesday for engaging in illicit sex, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.
They were the first women in Malaysia to receive such punishment under syariah law.
Two of them where whipped six times and the third was given four strokes of the rotan at Kajang Prison.
The issue of caning of women has ignited a fierce debate in the country after 32-year-old Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno was sentenced to be caned for drinking beer in July last year.
The sentence against her has yet to be executed.
Hishammuddin said he decided to bring to public attention the punishment meted 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 told a press conference at his office yesterday.
Hishammuddin said all three women did not suffer any cuts or bruises following the caning but had confessed that the punishment had left a deep impact on them.
“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.
The three women were found guilty of committing illicit sex by the Federal Territory Syariah High Court, which issued the caning order between December last year and last month.
Hishammuddin said one of the women was released on Sunday after spending a month in prison and another was expected to be released over the next few days.
The third woman is currently serving her jail term and would be released in June.
He said the Prisons Department had consulted experts from the Islamic Development Department (Jakim), the Syariah Department and the Attorney-General’s Chambers before carrying out the sentence.
He said the ministry agreed on the procedure for the caning of Muslim women offenders for syariah offences on Dec 4.
They include thorough checks before and after the caning, ensuring that the women were not pregnant and were appropriately dressed according to the Islamic dress code.
He said 13 people, including officials from Jakim, the Syariah Court and the A-G’s Chambers, were present during the procedure.
“I hope there will be no more issues arising from the caning sentence which can be imposed by the Syariah Court on Muslim women to protect the sanctity of Islam,” he added.
“The punishment is aimed at getting the offenders to repent and seek Allah’s forgiveness. It is also meant to educate Muslims to follow the teachings of Islam.”