TWO Malaysian Muslim women convicted under Islamic laws of attempting to have sex were caned in public on Monday.
The punishment has been slammed by lawmakers and rights activists as a form of torture.
The women, aged 22 and 32, were seated on stools facing the judges and given six strokes from a light rattan cane on their backs by female prison officers. More than 100 people witnessed the caning in a Shariah courtroom in northeast Terengganu state, they said.
Human rights groups slammed the punishment as a setback for human rights and said it could worsen discrimination against people in Malaysia’s lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender community.
Malaysia follows a dual-track justice system. Nearly two-thirds of Malaysia’s 31 million people are Muslims, who are governed by Islamic courts in family, marriage and personal issues.
The two unidentified women were discovered by Islamic officials in April and sentenced last month by a Shariah court to six strokes of a cane and a fine after pleading guilty.
Muslim Lawyers’ Association deputy president Abdul Rahim Sinwan said unlike caning under civil laws, the punishment under Islamic laws isn’t painful or harsh and was meant to educate the women so they will repent. The women, dressed in white headscarves and clothing, didn’t cry or scream but “showed remorse,” he said.