Stop all caning punishments now, say women's rights groups

PETALING JAYA: Women’s rights groups are calling for an immediate halt of all caning punishments in the country.

The Joint Action Group (JAG), a coalition of women's groups, said that the government needed to strongly condemn all caning punishments pending Malaysia’s ratification of six United Nations (UN) treaties regarding human rights.

“On July 2, Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah had pledged for the government to sign six more international human rights conventions and to achieve the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

“On Aug 21, Suhakam echoed this call for more treaties to be ratified by Malaysia, and these treaties include the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment,” said JAG in a statement Friday (Aug 24). 

It said stopping all caning punishments now would show the government’s seriousness in ratifying these treaties.

“Whipping as a form of punishment violates international human rights principles, which regard whipping and other forms of corporal punishment as cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment.

“Moreover, research has shown that whipping is not an effective deterrent, even for violent and sexual crimes,” added JAG.

JAG also criticised recent cases where members of the lesbian, gays, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community were sentenced to whipping and caning punishments.

It urged the government to stop the punishments from being carried out.

“To sanction cruelty and torture towards members of the LGBT community, who already experience all forms of violence and discrimination in our country, will only serve to incite more violence and hatred towards them.

“JAG urges the government to put an immediate halt to the caning of the two women in Terengganu and to rise above racial and religious differences to curb all forms of hate provocations and crimes in our community, especially towards vulnerable minority groups.

“To allow the caning to proceed will reflect poorly on Malaysia’s sincerity (in wanting) to ratify the treaties,” added JAG.

JAG is made up of Association of Women Lawyers (AWL), All Women’s Action Society (AWAM), Justice For Sisters, Perak Women For Women (PWW), Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER), Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor (PSWS), Sisters in Islam (SIS), Tenaganita, Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO), and Women’s Centre for Change (WCC).

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