Malaysian Muslim lesbian couple caned in public punishment

Corporal punishment, while still practiced, is rare in Malaysia. (File/Shutterstock)
Updated 05 September 2018
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Malaysian Muslim lesbian couple caned in public punishment

  • The punishment under Islamic laws isn’t painful or harsh and was meant to educate the women so they will repent
  • More than 100 people witnessed the caning in a Shariah courtroom

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: Two Malaysian Muslim women convicted under Islamic laws of attempting to have sex were caned Monday in a rare public whipping that was slammed by lawmakers and rights activists as a form of torture.
Lawyers and activists said the women, aged 22 and 32, were seated on stools facing the judges and given six strokes from a light rattan cane on their backs by female prison officers. More than 100 people witnessed the caning in a Shariah courtroom in northeast Terengganu state, they said.
Muslim Lawyers’ Association deputy president Abdul Rahim Sinwan said unlike caning under civil laws, the punishment under Islamic laws isn’t painful or harsh and was meant to educate the women so they will repent. The women, dressed in white headscarves and clothing, didn’t cry or scream but “showed remorse,” he said.
“Repentance is the ultimate aim for their sin,” he said.
Human rights groups slammed the punishment as a setback for human rights and said it could worsen discrimination against people in Malaysia’s lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender community.
“Caning is a form of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and may amount to torture,” Amnesty International Malaysia said in a statement. “People should not live in fear because they are attracted to people of the same sex. The Malaysian authorities must immediately repeal repressive laws, outlaw torturous punishments and ratify the UN Convention Against Torture.”
Malaysia follows a dual-track justice system. Nearly two-thirds of Malaysia’s 31 million people are Muslims, who are governed by Islamic courts in family, marriage and personal issues. The two unidentified women were discovered by Islamic officials in April and sentenced last month by a Shariah court to six strokes of a cane and a fine after pleading guilty.
Thilaga Sulathireh, from the group Justice for Sisters who witnessed the caning, said she was shocked by the public spectacle. She said Malaysian laws were inconsistent because civil laws prohibit corporal punishment against female prisoners.
“It’s a regression of human rights in Malaysia. It’s not about the severity of the caning. Corporal punishment is a form of torture regardless of your intention,” she said.
Lawmakers also joined in the chorus of condemnation against the public caning.
“Islam teaches us to look after the dignity of every human being. And that mercy is preferable to punishment,” opposition lawmaker Khairy Jamaluddin tweeted.
Lawmaker Charles Santiago said the government must repeal all laws that criminalize homosexuality.
“And this is because we really need to make sure that no one is publicly caned let alone because of their sexuality,” he said.
Malaysia is seen as a moderate and stable Muslim-majority country, but Islamic conservatism is on the rise.
The caning occurred amid a climate of fear and discrimination against Malaysia’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. A few weeks ago, authorities removed the portraits of two LGBT rights activists from a public exhibition. Malaysia religious minister Mujahid Yusuf later said the government doesn’t support the promotion of LGBT culture. A transgender woman was also beaten up by a group of people in a southern state this month.


Golden Globe Race seek to rescue injured Indian sailor

The Australian Joint Rescue Co-ordination Center is working hard to assess and coordinate all possible options to rescue Abhilas Tomy. (goldengloberace)
Updated 23 September 2018
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Golden Globe Race seek to rescue injured Indian sailor

  • The Australian Joint Rescue Co-ordination Center is working hard to assess and coordinate all possible options to rescue Abhilas Tomy

PARIS: The organizers of the round-the-world Golden Globe Race said Saturday they were scrambling to rescue missing Indian sailor Abhilash Tomy, but admitted he was “as far from help as you can possibly be.”
Tomy’s yacht Thuriya had its mast broken off when it was rolled in a storm on Friday and the yachtsman suffered what he called “a severe back injury.”
The organizers described him as “incapacitated on his bunk inside his boat” and his yacht is 2,000 miles (3,704 kilometers) off the coast of Perth, Western Australia.
On Saturday, he managed to send a message saying: “Extremely difficult to walk, Might need stretcher, can’t walk, thanks safe inside the boat... Sat phone down.”
The organizers said on the race website: “The Australian Joint Rescue Co-ordination Center is working hard to assess and coordinate all possible options to rescue Abhilas Tomy who is as far from help as you can possibly be.”
Tomy, a 39-year-old commander in the Indian navy, is able to communicate using a YB3 texting unit but his primary satellite phone is damaged.
He has a second satellite phone and a handheld VHF radio packed in an emergency bag, but organizers said he was unable to reach it for the moment.
The organizers said they had urged him to try to get to the bag because it could be crucial in making contact with a plane from Australia and an Indian air force plane which might be able to fly over the area.
Given the distance from land, the planes will not be able to spend long in the area, the organizers added.
A French fishing boat was also heading to the scene “but may not arrive for a few days.”
The Golden Globe Race involves a gruelling 30,000-mile solo circumnavigation of the globe in yachts similar to those used in the first race 50 years ago, with no modern technology allowed except the communication equipment.
Tomy’s own yacht is a replica of Robin Knox-Johnston’s Suhail, winner of the first Golden Globe Race.