Monday, March 08, 2010

Jakim denies caning violates women’s rights

The country’s federal Islamic authority have come out to defend the caning of three Muslim women for Syariah offences last month, saying it does not violate their rights.

The Islamic Development Department (Jakim) noted in a nine-page document titled “Polemic over the Caning of Kartika Sari Dewi Sukarnor” that women remain protected although Malaysia has yet to fully ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Form of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)

The document is one of eight published on Jakim’s website that provides information about Syariah caning.

It stressed that the principle of equality in women’s rights was not threatened despite Malaysia having “reservations” over sections of the CEDAW to which it has been a member of since 1995.

“What is clear is that the syariah judicial system does not ignore such principles when Syariah caning was imposed on Kartika or previous cases of either gender,” the document said, referring to the part-time model still awaiting her sentence for drinking beer in Pahang.

Known as the universal human rights laws for women, the convention has a membership of more than 180 countries and emphasises protection and equal rights for women in law, economy, social and community in its member nations.

Malaysia accepted the convention on July 5, 1995 with reservations about certain sections that were in conflict with syariah laws and the Federal Constitution.

Based on the conflict, Malaysia placed reservations on five articles in CEDAW, namely Articles 2(f), 5(a), 7(b), 9 and 16.

In 1998, the government retracted its reservations on Articles 2(f), 9(1), 16(b),(d),(e) and (h).

With that retraction, Malaysia only had reservations over Articles 5(a), 7(b), 9(2),16 1(a),(c), (f) dan (g) and 16 (2).

The document also said that it is undeniable that there have been negative responses from some quarters and the individuals related to the issue.

“It has to be understood that a lack of knowledge about a certain subject can be slanderous it not said appropriately.

“What is certain is that the responsible authority has provided information to the best of its ability and implemented Islamic laws without undermining the principles of democracy and our nation’s Constitution,” it added.

The other documents put on the Jakim website include “Caning for education, Caning punishment in Syariah crimes — Implementation Realities”, “Working Paper for Implementation of Caning in Syariah crimes - Problems and Solutions”, Implementing Caning in Syariah criminal cases - Challenges and Restrictions”, “The Role of Prisons in implementing Caning in Syariah criminal cases — A view”, “The difference between Syariah caning and Civil Criminal caning” and “List of offences liable for Syariah caning”.

The documents on Kartika came out after she was sentenced to caning last year by the Pahang Syariah High Court.

She had an audience with the Pahang Crown Prince Tengku Abdullah at the royal town of Pekan two days ago for an explanation about the caning

Kartika, a former model and nurse, was sentenced in July 2009 to six strokes of the cane and a fine of RM5,000 for drinking beer in December 2007 at a beach resort in violation of Islamic laws.

Islam forbids Muslims from drinking alcohol.

Kartika, who pleaded guilty, refused to appeal her sentence and was on the verge of being caned last Aug 24. But the punishment was halted at the last minute following an uproar in the media and among rights activists.

The Syariah laws provide for the place to conduct caning, witnesses, time for the punishment, the cane, parts of body that can be caned, caning methods, clothes and position of the offender, examination by medical officers, suspending the punishment, exceptions clauses, caning officer and suspended caning.

Last week, Jakim director-general Datuk Wan Mohamad Sheikh Abdul Aziz said the department will provide information about the caning to Muslim women via its website to ensure the people get a clearer picture of the matter.

Wan Mohamad said state officials were also capable of doing the information programme at state-level as directed by deputy prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

courtesy of Malaysian Insider

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