Don’t compare Shariah caning to whipping under civil law, says Malaysian Bar

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George criticised the 'public spectacle' of the caning of the two young women in a courtroom that was reportedly witnessed by more than 100 people last Monday. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 5 ― The Malaysian Bar condemned today the public caning of two women in Terengganu under Shariah law for attempting to have lesbian sex.

The peninsular legal body also dismissed comparisons of the Shariah punishment to whipping under civil law that is much more physically brutal than the former.

“All kinds of corporal punishment are harsh and barbaric, and cause harmful and long-lasting physical and/or psychological effects,” Malaysian Bar president George Varughese said in a statement.

“Fifty-three countries around the world have instituted country-wide bans on all forms of corporal punishment. Four of them are member states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (“OIC”). Malaysia must follow suit,” he added.

George criticised the “public spectacle” of the caning of the two young women, aged 22 and 32, in a courtroom that was reportedly witnessed by more than 100 people last Monday.

“Caning in itself is a cruel and degrading form of punishment that strips an individual of dignity and self-respect.

“This is exacerbated by the very public manner in which the caning was carried out, the harmful effects of which cannot be justified by any perceived retributory, deterrent or educational value,” he said.

After the Terengganu caning, Pahang and Kelantan ― under Barisan Nasional and PAS rule respectively ― are reportedly considering following suit.

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