A religious court in an Islamic-controlled Malaysian state sentenced a 30-year-old single mother to six strokes of a cane and six months in jail after she pleaded guilty to offering sexual services, a prosecutor told Reuters on Thursday.
The ruling fell under Islamic laws forbidding prostitution, the outlet said, adding that the woman is the third this month sentenced to caning in the conservative eastern state of Terengganu, which is ruled by the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party.
“Even though the offense does not involve a victim, it has a negative impact by destroying societal institutions, introducing sexually-transmitted diseases, and has a bad influence on the youth,” prosecutor Muhammad Khasmizan Abdullah told Reuters.
Islamic enforcement officers caught the woman at a hotel Sept. 17, the outlet said, adding that she pleaded for leniency given that she turned to prostitution to raise her child and received no financial support from her ex-husband.
But the court apparently was unmoved. It went forward with the jail and caning and sentence, Reuters said, citing Muhammad Khasmizan, who said the caning would take place in prison within 14 days.
The woman — a first-time offender — wasn't represented in court, the outlet added.
What's the background?
Islamic criminal and family laws applicable to Muslims run alongside civil laws in Malaysia, Reuters reported, adding that while civil laws don't allow women to be caned, it's allowed under Islamic laws in some states.
Two women were caned six times each Sept. 3 in front of others in the Terengganu Syariah High Court after being convicted of attempting to commit musahaqah (lesbian sex).
What are others saying about this latest sentence?
A Muslim women’s group, Sisters in Islam, told the outlet it was “disappointed” that the Terengganu court again sentenced a woman to caning.
“Today’s case clearly demonstrates that the humiliation experienced by women before, during, and after the whipping is not considered a relevant factor of their pain, when in fact humiliation is a key aspect of the punishment,” Rozana Isa, executive director of the group, told Reuters in a statement.
But Muhammad Khasmizan said gender played no role in the incidents, noting to the outlet that "men are caned if they commit such crimes, too."