Model’s Caning Postponed August 24, 2009

Model’s Caning Postponed

Hey, Ron Gold here.

An Islamic model in Malaysia–yes, they do exist–has been sentenced to be caned for her henious crime of drinking beer in public. She was set to receive the beating only a matter of hours ago, when suddenly, it was delayed for Ramadan related reasons. However, this was not a welcome decision:

The first woman in Muslim-majority Malaysia to face caning for drinking beer was reprieved Monday because of the holy month of Ramadan. Her family said she would rather get the thrashing with a rattan cane now and put the ordeal behind her.

Islamic officials had taken Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, a 32-year-old mother of two, into custody and were driving her to a women’s prison for the caning when they abruptly turned around and sent her back to her family home in northern Malaysia.

“She feels like a football being kicked around,” Kartika’s father, Shukarno Abdul Muttalib, told The Associated Press. “She’s so exhausted and unhappy with the delay. She would prefer to just receive the six strokes and have everything finished.”

Alcohol isn’t always illegal in Malaysia.  Indeed, the country has a complex, unhealthy relationship with intoxicating beverages:

Beer, wine and liquor is widely available at shops, bars and restaurants in Malaysia, unlike in more austere Islamic nations such as Iran and Pakistan. Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and other minorities in Malaysia are free to consume alcohol but its Shariah law forbids Muslims — who make up 60 percent of the 27 million population — from drinking, although a minority of Muslims still indulge despite the religious stricture.

Islamic morality police — enforcement officials of the Islamic Religious Department — arrested Kartika in a raid for drinking beer at a hotel lounge at a beach resort in Cherating in Pahang state in December 2007. Kartika was sentenced to six lashes of a rattan cane by the Shariah court last month in what was considered a warning to other Muslims to abide by religious rules.

Even though the whole practice sounds barbaric, the morality police explain that it will be one of their more compassionate canings:

Islamic officials had insisted that the caning’s purpose is to educate rather than punish. They say the rattan cane supposed to be used on Kartika would be smaller and lighter than the one used for men, and that she will remain clothed.

Yes, that does sound educational!

But to be serious, Malaysia is rarely considered to be a land of extremists, and their morality police pales in comparison to those found in many other countries, such as Saudi Arabia.  Still, this “moderate” country can sometimes look anything but modern.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • The worst part is you always think Morality Police is a joke for just a moment.
    Then you get really, really sad.

  • medussa

    I’m sure this will convince her that Islam is the best choice of religion in the world, and that Allah loves her.

  • Valdyr

    A perfect example of morality in the Judeo-Christian tradition: do what we say, not because we can explain why it’s the right thing to do, but because we will beat the shit out of you if you don’t. IIRC, even Jesus, who is regarded as something of a progressive of his time even by many atheists, never laid out why people should follow his moral code in a logical way that everyone can understand. Just more appeals to authority and tradition.

  • Wendy

    I actually kind of agree with corporal punishment to some extent, but not for something so harmless… Rape a child, you should have your ass severely beaten, but drinking beer? Sweet Jesus.

  • I just wonder at these places with such idiotic laws. Drink a beer, huge deal- they will publicly cane you and humiliate you- but if one were to look at the other crime- the rapes, murders, thefts and so on- the rate of those crimes would e higher than in the decadent west… what on earth are they trying to do?

  • IMO, the punishment should “fit the crime”. In her case, perhaps she should be tickled with a feather for a couple of seconds.

    @Valdyr, since we are talking about Islamic law, you can’t lay this at the feet of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Although, you might be able to categorize it under “Abrahamic religions”.

  • TJ

    Indeed, the country has a complex, unhealthy relationship with intoxicating beverages

    and intoxicating belief systems.

  • lindsey

    Is this a Muslim woman or an Islamic woman? It sounds the same but there is actually an important distinction: Muslim refers to someone who practices Islam, someone ‘Islamic’ is an extremist.

    /putting my degree to use

  • theBlakKat

    This is pretty much part of the corporal punishment debate. In this case, religion is at the base of the punishment. But really, it’s just an extension of a parent spanking a child for breaking a rule, with the government/Shariah law taking the parents’ place and an adult-sized punishment. I mean, parents really are ‘Morality Police’ when you think about it.

  • Aj


    Is this a Muslim woman or an Islamic woman? It sounds the same but there is actually an important distinction: Muslim refers to someone who practices Islam, someone ‘Islamic’ is an extremist.

    /putting my degree to use

    Are you sure? I’ve been under the impression that common usage is Muslim == Islamic, and I’ve checked several online dictionaries, as well as many articles, which agree with me. Islamic art isn’t extremist at all. Islamist means Islamic Fundamentalist.

  • Valdyr

    @Valdyr, since we are talking about Islamic law, you can’t lay this at the feet of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Although, you might be able to categorize it under “Abrahamic religions”.

    Islam, whether it wants to admit it or not, is heir to the Judeo-Christian tradition, viewing itself as God’s final revelation to mankind in an attempt to clear up the false interpretations of the words of previous Torah/Bible prophets (whom, naturally, they believe were really promoting Islam). Muslims even recognize Jesus as a prophet of Allah–they just think the whole Messiah/son of god thing was a big misunderstanding. Islam is very very heavily influenced by Judaism and Christianity. Just try not to talk to Muslims about the time Mohammed spent in the desert studying with a group of Jewish mystics… nowadays, they really won’t take it well.

  • selfification

    I support corporal punishment in certain (very narrow) cases because shame and social rejection is part of a learning experience when it comes to rehabilitating someone. In dealing out the punishment, I feel that it should fit the crime — in that it should clearly show the perpetrator what part of the golden rule he/she violated so that they can see how they harmed someone else.

    If the Islamists insist that the drinking of beer in front of others is an affront to their sensibilities, I feel like the most fitting “punishment” to be giving her is to make her sit in a room with a bunch of muslims all drinking beer with nothing but ginger ale for her. There… that should teach her the pain felt by others when she drinks beer in front of them.

  • lindsey

    AJ, it is my understanding that one does not refer to a person as Islamic as an extremist, but yes Islamic art is the term. I could be wrong.

  • J B Tait

    Shariah law is biased against women (for example, in some groups it allows for women to be murdered because they were raped) and it is not surprising it is a woman being punished this way. I wonder how many men were rounded up in that sweep.
    On the other hand, Wikipedia says women had more rights under Shariah than they did under Western law up until the late 19th century. For that matter, in Quebec in the 60s I could not be admitted to a hospital without a husband or father (or in extreme emergency, other male relative) to sign for me, so the 20th century wasn’t perfect either.

    If she accepted Islam voluntarily and took the veil, perhaps she knowingly broke a law she signed on for. Likewise, if a homosexual chose to move to Iran, one would hope he or she would be prudent enough to hide it and not transgress.
    The laws may not meet our standards of fair, but we don’t really have a right to protest if there were legal options for her.

    Where is the fine line between what is obviously right and wrong and what should also be included?

    In the U.S. we have people who believe that ugly people (meaning in most cases the very fat) should not be allowed to go out in public–should we allow them to make a law? We have people who believe your lawn should be mowed and you can’t have weeds–we allow that poor ecological approach to become law. Naked people (but God made us that way, so I don’t understand) are not allowed in most public places in the U.S. but whole communities elsewhere consider that normal.
    In the U.S., one can be labeled a sexual offender and put on The List for urinating in the bushes. Alcohol causes a whole lot of problems, so how is drinking in public any more or less offensive?

    So is the newsworthiness coming from the corporal punishment, punishment for drinking beer, or the fact that she is a woman?
    She knew the law, she knew the penalty, she did it anyway.

    I don’t approve, but I don’t think we have any right to judge on this one.
    Perhaps we need to re-examine our tolerance for other ways of life?

  • medussa

    JB Tait, if I go on the assumption that this woman had legal options, I might think you had a point about not judging other cultures. But as you point out yourself, the laws in the theocracies I hear about are very biased against women.
    What kind of options are you thinking she had? To choose to leave the faith? Did you read the other post on this blog about the american muslim and her trials trying to leave the islamic religion? Are you thinking this woman would have that option?
    And yes, you are right, it is theoretically possible that she voluntarily chose the islamic faith and she therefore knew what she was getting into. I’m thinking this is unlikely.

  • J B Tait

    @medussa: She had the choice to not drink publicly. She also might have had the choice to profess one of the other religions whose members were allowed to drink–we don’t know if she was coerced into Islam or chose it freely.
    Or she could have chosen to not drink at all. A law against drinking is only an inconvenience, and does not prevent activities that are essential, so complying, while annoying, is not too hard to accomplish. It is a matter of whether someone will be voluntarily law abiding, just as nudists choose to drape textiles on their bodies when they go out because the Christians have made going naked an offense with penalties.

    I don’t approve of laws like this. They don’t usually work, they are unnecessarily intrusive, and they don’t prevent any harm to bystanders, but if they exist, residents are pretty much obligated to obey them, work to get them changed, or accept the penalties.

    If someone is forced into a religion, or forced to remain in one they don’t embrace, we may have something else to protest. This would be another subject.

  • Valdyr

    Given that she was born in Malaysia, she was most likely coerced into the religion (indoctrinated as a child), but the specifics don’t really matter–leaving Islam is not an option in the Muslim world. And a stupid law is still stupid, even if it’s the law. In my book, ‘criminals’ deserve sympathy if the law they’ve broken is unjust, not condemnation, regardless of circumstances.

  • Appearantly caning is a popular punishment in Malaysia. Here’s what wikipedia said about the effects of caning.

    Caning with a heavy judicial rattan of the Singapore/Malaysia kind can leave scars for years, at any rate where a large number of strokes are inflicted. However, this should not be confused with an ordinary caning with a typical light rattan (as formerly in English schools), which, although very painful at the time, would leave only superficial weals lasting a few days.

  • grazatt

    I would never visit that country or Singapore

  • Sven

    I just read in the news that the caning is of.

    Pff.. I’d hate to be the one that bought her the drink..

  • Seosamh Mac an Ri

    If these people trust in God so much, why can’t they leave it to him. The Muslims aren’t the only ones trying to make the laws of religon into laws of the state. Spain under General Franco or Ireland De Valera where the Supreme Leader, Archbishop
    John Charles Mc Quaid ruled with an iron fist would be typical examples of this. Of course in Ireland we now know what a bunch of perverts ran the show. You wouldn’t have to dig to deep with that judge and the religious police in Malaysia to find that they have skeletons in the closet. Hopefully the people there won’t have to wait almost 70 years for this. I hope they don’t have to wait so long. The west of course supports such religious fanatics wehn it suits them, remember support for the Taliban in the 80’s and Sylvester Stallone with them fighting the Russians.
    I can imagine some Pervert in Malaysia having a jerk thinking og caning a woman.

    There are lots of moderate Muslims who find that as revolting as I do. Hopefully some day they will be the majority. Ireland has recently rejoined the club with the new Blasphemy Laws

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