KUALA LUMPUR: Sisters in Islam (SIS) is appalled by the Kelantan government’s decision to pass the amendment to its Kelantan Shariah Criminal Procedure Enactment 2002, allowing for Shariah offenders to be caned publicly.
In a statement today, SIS said public caning is a deplorable form of humiliation and shaming.
"It will brand Malaysia as a country that allows uncivilised punishment which aims at the degradation of human dignity and stigmatisation, rather than rehabilitation.
"We demand for the Kelantan state government to reveal to us where exactly in the holy Quran does it command punishments such as public caning.
"Do not deceive the Muslim population here by brandishing the holy religion of Islam to justify these deplorable actions," the statement read.
The women activist group said it does not see how repression, shaming and punishment would lead to higher Islamic values in Kelantan, which has high rates of pornography consumption, rape and incest.
"This type of approach to ‘manage’ behaviour in Kelantan will only create an increasingly repressive environment where women and the poor will bear the brunt," it said.
SIS cites a Quranic verse (16:125) which provides that any law passed in the name of Islam must take into account the most fundamental teachings of the Quran based on justice and mercy and the right to preserve human dignity.
"Even in the verses regarding punishment in the Quran, God stressed the qualities of mercy and forgiveness."
SIS demands that the Kelantan government repeal the amendment in the enactment and observe Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) that "no one shall be subjected to torture, cruel or degrading forms of punishment."
"The Federal Government must act or it will be neglecting this issue as one which threatens the nation’s values and aspirations.
"The Malaysian public cannot remain apathetic on this issue anymore. This corruption and use of Islam to deal with social issues is seeping into every aspect of our lives and will destroy the very social fabric on which our forefathers built this great country," SIS said.
On Wednesday, the Kelantan state assembly passed an amendment to the Kelantan Shariah Criminal Procedure Enactment 2002 which allows criminals in the state to be caned in public.