Two Malaysian women caned publicly after pleading guilty to attempting to have lesbian sex

Two Malaysian women were caned publicly Monday in the Terengganu Syariah High Court after being convicted of attempting to commit musahaqah, lesbian sex, the Guardian reported.
A Terengganu judge sentenced the Muslim women, ages 22 and 32, to six strokes each in front of a courtroom of witnesses. It’s reportedly the first time this type of punishment has been carried out against two women for attempting to have sex, according to Insider.
Islamic authorities caught the unidentified women committing sex acts inside a car in April. They pleaded guilty to the charges last month.
Along with the caning, the women were fined 3,300 Malaysian ringgit ($798).

What happened?

The women, who were dressed in white headscarves and clothing, sat on stools facing the judges while female prison officers struck their backs using light rattan canes, according to the Associated Press.
They didn’t cry or scream, they “showed remorse,” Muslim Lawyers’ Association Deputy President Abdul Rahim Sinwan told the AP.
Unlike caning under civil laws, the punishment used under Islamic laws isn’t intended to serve as a lesson rather than being painful or harsh, according to Sinwan.
“Repentance is the ultimate aim for their sin,” Sinwan said.

What did the activists say?

Human rights and LGBT activists blasted the public whipping as a form of torture.
“The caning of the two women is a dreadful reminder of the depth of discrimination and criminalization that LGBTI people face in the country. It’s a sign that the new government condones the use of measures that amount to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment, much like its predecessor,” Amnesty International wrote in a press release.
“As long as draconian legislation which criminalizes Malaysians based on their sexual orientation and gender identity remains on the books, LGBTI people will continue to be at risk of this type of punishment. People should not live in fear because of who they are and who they love — the Malaysian authorities must immediately repeal repressive laws, outlaw torturous punishments, and ratify the UN Convention against Torture,” Amnesty International wrote.
Thilaga Sulathireh, an activist for Malaysia-based human rights’ group Justice for Sisters, told the Guardian that the punishment was “shocking and it was a spectacle.”
“This case shows a regression for human rights,” Sulathireh said. “Not only for LGBT people but all persons because corporal punishment affects all people.”

What else?

Satiful Bahri Mamat, an official in charge of Shariah implementation, said the caning serves as a public reminder to Muslims against committing illicit sex acts, which he called a “cancer that can spread in society,” MalayMail reported.
“From what we can see today, I believe [such sentences] will no longer shock the public,” Mamat said.
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