Malaysian Muslim woman accepts flogging penalty after being caught for drinking beer

A Malaysian woman sentenced to flogging for drinking beer has accepted the Islamic court’s order, saying she wants the punishment to be carried out soon, news reports said Thursday.

Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, a 32-year-old model, was arrested on charges of drinking beer after Islamic authorities raided a hotel nightclub last year. She was sentenced Monday to six lashes with a rattan cane after pleading guilty in the Shariah High Court.

Consuming alcohol is a religious offence in Malaysia only for Muslims, who make up nearly two-thirds of the population. Offenders are prosecuted in Shariah courts, which handle cases mainly related to family and moral issues for Muslims. Most alcohol offenders are fined, but the law also provides for a three-year prison term and caning.

Some politicians and women’s rights activists have criticized the religious court’s sentence, calling it too harsh.

Caning is usually reserved for men in various crimes ranging from rape to bribery. But several Islamic lawyers have insisted that the penalty for Kartika is fair, saying she will be whipped with a thin rattan cane that does not cause severe pain.

Kartika told reporters in her northern home state of Perak on Wednesday that she wants authorities to carry out the penalty quickly so that she can resume her life with her husband and two children.

“I will accept this earthly punishment,” the national news agency Bernama quoted her as saying. “I want to advise youngsters to learn from my experience, not to repeat my mistake and cause shame to yourself and family.”

Kartika’s lawyer could not immediately be contacted Thursday.

Rattan canes are made from palm plants common in tropical parts of Asia. They have been used for decades for corporal punishment, but offenders in serious crimes are flogged with thicker canes that can cause bleeding and scars.

Kartika was the only Muslim caught in last year’s raid at the Pahang nightclub. Malaysian clubs and lounges typically serve alcohol and are not legally required to check if customers are Muslim before serving them, so the hotel nightclub operators were not charged with any offence.

The judge in Kartika’s case did not elaborate on why he imposed a relatively severe sentence, but local media noted that he had a history of being tough on alcohol offenders.

See also: Malaysia debates caning of woman


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