Katrika Sari Dewi Shukarno is an average Malaysian, Muslim mother of two children, at a hotel situated in front of the seashore she had a sip or two of beer. Instead of being arrested for a DUI, she was arrested for simply drinking the beer in 2007, December.
She spent time in a detention center after she was detained by the Islamic Morality Police and as ridiculous as it sounds from a secular perspective, Ms. Shukarnor was tried by the sultan, Haji Ahmad Shah, of Malaysia’s Pahang state for the consumption of alcohol under Islamic law which forbids muslims to drink alcohol.
Ms. Shukarno pleaded guilty to the accusation and being devoted to her religion, did not appeal against her sentence of being caned six times by a rattan cane and ‘prepared’ herself for the punishment as she asked that this corporal punishment be carried out in public, not in private. This case became slightly famous as some countries, including the U.S had criticized the Islamic government’s unneeded physical punishments.
Today, the Pahang state’s sultan overturned the sentence and instead imposed a six week community service at a children’s home starting tommorow on the second of April. There were a few surprises everywhere in Malaysia at this sudden and unprecedented turn, even Ms. Shukarnor was surprised at this.
Malaysian law has two sides, one for secular citizens and another for Muslims. Religious and Muslim-traditional laws apply to those who are Muslims while the other set of laws are for those who aren’t Muslims living in Malaysia.
The original sentence was followed by representatives from the human rights organization Amnesty International who pleaded with the government to turn aside this sentence. MS. Shukarnor’s father also appealed for a lighter sentence. Using corporal punishment on Muslim women for religious offenses is still new in the culture of this region in the world as three women became the first women to be caned under Islamic law; their crime was having sexual intercourse before they had married.
(Cover Picture: Associated Press)