Two women who pleaded guilty to attempting same-sex relations were given six strokes of the cane at the Sharia High Court of north-eastern state Terengganu in Malaysia on Monday.
The punishment took place behind closed doors in the courtroom after the judge handed down the sentence with close to 150 witnesses present.
The unidentified women, aged 22 and 23, were fined 806 dollars (3,300 ringgit) in addition to the six strokes of the cane.
The caning, originally scheduled for Aug. 28, was postponed to Monday due to technical reasons, the Chief Registrar of the court, Wan Wan-Sidek, said as he defended the public caning.
“The power of the court has been enacted in [the] Terengganu state constitution … Sharia laws allow for women to be punished, they are just being educated and not tortured,’’ Wan-Sidek said.
Thilaga Sulathireh, from the group Justice for Sisters, who witnessed the ordeal, was concerned about the safety, privacy, harassment, humiliation and trauma of the women.
“There’s a disparity and gap between Muslim and non-Muslim women,” Sulathireh said.
“We are very concerned on how a lot of the punishment is carried out in the name of religion. What happened today was definitely quite shocking.
“It really is a sign of how human rights are regressing in Malaysia not only for LGBT but for all people.”
Muslims make up approximately 60 per cent of Malaysia’s population of 32 million.
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