Malaysia has caned three women for having extramarital sex, in a move at odds with the moderate Islamic nation that the Government wants to project to the world.
Announcing the sentence, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein declined to say who was caned, where the whipping took place and on what part of the body.
One woman was released from prison last week after spending a month behind bars.
Malaysia has increasingly applied Sharia, or Islamic law, to its Muslim citizens, who make up 60 percent of the country's 28 million people, raising concerns that a more militant brand of Islam is taking hold in a country that prides itself on its multiracial, multireligious image, Times Online reports.
Malaysian authorities beat the women Feb. 9, the first time females had been subjected to the penalty. Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein announced the punishment Wednesday in a statement.
"The case constitutes further discrimination against Muslim women in Malaysia," as the rule doesn’t apply to non- Muslims, Hamidah Marican, executive director of Sisters in Islam, said in a statement. "And to do this surreptitiously implies that the government wanted to hide this degrading and unjust treatment from public scrutiny," Bloomberg informs.
Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia secretary-general Datuk Dr Ma’amor Osman said punishment under Syariah law is more than just a punitive measure but serves as a lesson to other Muslims.
On Wednesday, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said three women were caned on Feb 9 at the Kajang Prison under Section 23 (2) of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act 1997 for having illicit sex.
The trio became the first women in the country to be caned for committing syariah offences, Malaysia Star reports.