100 People Attended Public Caning Of 2 Terengganu Women Charged With Same-Sex Relations

It was Terengganu's first-ever public caning.

Cover image via Free Malaysia Today

Earlier today, 3 September, 100 people witnessed the public caning of two Terengganu women who were convicted of attempting to have lesbian sex last month

People were waiting to enter the Kuala Terengganu Syariah High Court today to witness the public caning of the women.

Image via Berita Harian

Berita Harian reported that the women were caned six times each by a caning officer from the Kajang Women's Prison in front of a panel of judges at about 10.10am today.

Although the punishment was carried out behind closed doors, Malay Mail reported Syariah lawyer Marlina Amir Hamzah as saying that the women were caned in full view of nearly 100 people including members of the public, government agency representatives, and members of non-governmental organisations.

According to Free Malaysia Today, the women's punishment marked Terengganu's first sentencing on same-sex relations.

The Muslim Lawyers Association (PPMM) claimed that the women were given private access in and out of court to protect their identities

"They were brought through different doors, they were taken out through different doors, as the purpose is not to humiliate (the women)," PPMM deputy president Abdul Rahim Sinwan was quoted as saying by Malay Mail.

"Humiliation is out of the question, to hurt the person is out of the question," Abdul added.

Abdul Rahim Sinwan

Image via The Rakyat Post

Abdul also claimed that caning, under the Syariah law, is not meant to hurt the person.

"It is to educate the person. Therefore it's not painful, it's not harsh," Abdul said, before reiterating that Syariah caning is different from civil ones.

The public caning has since attracted criticism from multiple NGOs

The Star reported that two women's rights groups, Justice for Sisters and Sisters in Islam, called the punishment "a travesty and a grave miscarriage of justice"

The groups argued that under the Prison Act 1995 and Prison Regulations 2000, caning can only be carried out against prisoners.

"As the sentences of the two women did not include imprisonment, they were not considered prisoners as defined by the Prison Act and Prison Regulations," the groups said in a joint press statement. 

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via Malay Mail

"Outraged and appalled", the Women's Aid Organisation (WAO) called the public caning "inhumane and degrading".

Another local NGO, PELANGI Campaign, also lamented the punishment against the women. 

The women were caught by Islamic enforcement officers last month for attempting to have sex in a car

Upon their arrest, a dildo was also found hidden under the driver's seat in the car.

The women then pleaded guilty to breaking an Islamic law which prohibits same-sex relations.

Here's a recap of the women's conviction:

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