20 August, 2009

Malaysian Muslim model will be first to be caned for drinking beer !

"The rattan cane to be used on Kartika would be lighter than the one used on men, and its purpose was to 'educate' rather than punish."

A moderate caning in modern, moderate Malaysia. An "educational" one ?

"Muslim model becomes first woman in Malaysia to be caned after being caught drinking a beer,"

A Muslim model will become the first woman to be caned in Malaysia after pleading guilty to drinking beer.

Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, 32, was sentenced to six lashes by an Islamic court after she was caught with alcohol in a raid on a hotel nightclub in eastern Pahang state last year.

The married mother of two will be caned next week following her decision not to appeal her sentence.

Prosecutor Saiful Idham Sahimi said: 'It is a good punishment because under Islamic law a person who drinks commits a serious offence.'

He added that a rattan cane 'lighter than the one for men' would be used, and that its purpose was to 'educate' rather than punish.

Muslims, who make up two-thirds of Malaysia's 28million population, are governed by sharia law. Although most alcohol offenders are fined, they can also be caned.

Women's rights groups attacked the penalty as being 'too harsh'.

Yesterday the court set a one-week period starting next Monday for the sentence to be carried out in a woman's prison, Saiful said. Prison authorities will decide when to cane her during that period.

He said Kartika will remain in prison during that time and will be released 'as soon as possible' after the caning is carried out.

Caning, administered on the buttocks, breaks the skin and leaves permanent scars. Kartika said earlier that she wanted authorities to cane her as soon as possible so she can resume her life with her husband and children.

Most alcohol offenders are fined, but the crime also carries a three-year prison term and caning.

Non-Muslims are governed by civil courts, which also impose caning for offenses such as rape and corruption. Men over 50, women and children are exempt under civil law.

A Muslim man and woman were also arrested during a series of raids in Cherating, a beach town in Pahang state, on the night when Kartika was arrested.

Both were also sentenced to caning, but have appealed.

Malaysian clubs and lounges typically serve alcohol and are not legally required to check if customers are Muslims before serving them.

The case has outraged some Malaysian women. “Did she harm anyone with her drinking?” asked a writer named Mariam Mokhtar in a letter to the New Straits Times newspaper. “Her crime is between her and her God. Let her receive her punishment when she eventually meets her Maker ... The worse crime is that we, and our society, allow and condone such terrible things to continue under the guise of ‘protecting the religion’.”

Ragunath Kesavan, the president of the Malaysian Bar Council, said: “This would be the first time caning has been meted out by the Islamic courts. We are all shocked and strongly oppose caning male or women offenders.”

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