Two Malaysian women were caned on Monday for having lesbian relations in violation of strict Islamic laws, despite an outcry from activists at the “cruel and unjust” punishment. The women, dressed in white dresses and Muslim headscarves, were each given six strokes as they sat on stools in the Sharia High Court in Kuala Terengganu, state capital of Terengganu.
A judge read out their sentence just before officials meted out the punishment using thin canes in front of a packed courtroom. The case has sparked widespread condemnation and focused attention on what rights groups say is a deteriorating climate for the gay community in the Muslim-majority country.
Campaigners said it was the first time that women in Malaysia have been caned for violating a sharia regulation which forbids same-sex relations. The country operates a dual-track legal system and Islamic courts can handle religious and family matters for Muslim citizens, as well as cases such as adultery. The women, aged 22 and 32, were arrested in April by Islamic enforcement officers.