KUALA LUMPUR: Every punishment meted out to Muslim women must be fair and just, said Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil.
“The ministry takes note of the caning of the three women on Feb 9. While no Muslim can deny the wisdom behind syariah jurisprudence, the issue of the implementation of syariah clearly lacks input from Muslim women who are stakeholders in Islamic jurisprudence,” said Shahrizat.
The minister added she would ensure that the recently-established Secretariat of Advocacy and Empowerment of Muslim Women (Senada) worked together with relevant government agencies, to oversee such cases in order to avoid any potential confusion or misunderstanding regarding the sanctity of Islamic laws and the rehabilitative effects these punishments have.
In Genting Highlands, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom said the three women were given religious counselling before and after they were sentenced under Section 23(2) of the Federal Territory Syariah Criminal Offences Act 1997 (Illicit Sex) after they were found guilty of engaging in illicit sex.
In Petaling Jaya, Malaysian Syarie Lawyers Association president Mohamad Isa Abd Ralip said via a statement the association fully supported the caning. On the sentence against Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarnor, who pleaded guilty to drinking beer in public, he said the whipping should be speeded up. The Association of Muslim Lawyers president Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar said the syariah caning was like “a father or teacher caning a child who had done wrong.”
However, All Women’s Action Society (Awam) president Sofia Lim Siu Ching said the Home Ministry needed to explain why the punishment was carried out in secret.
“The expediency and the secrecy reeks of bad faith and betrays a troubling disregard for public opinion.” Sisters in Islam (SIS) executive director Dr Hamidah Marican said the three cases constituted further discrimination against Muslim women in Malaysia.
Bar Council chairman Ragunath Kesavan urged the Government to abolish whipping and to comply with international norms and principles on it.
Related Stories: Caning ‘has done us a world of good’