Categorised | Letters to the Editor

Whipping violates human rights

SIS urges government to review whipping as form of judicial punishment in syariah courts

SISTERS in Islam (SIS) urges the government to review whipping of women as a form of judicial punishment by the syariah courts. Whipping constitutes further discrimination against Muslim women in Malaysia and violates constitutional guarantees of equality and non-discrimination.

Only Pahang, Perlis and Kelantan provide whipping of women under their Syariah Criminal Offences Code.

Whipping of women under syariah criminal offences legislation also contradicts civil law where women are not punishable by whipping under Section 289 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Whipping of men, meanwhile, is limited by age.

Nor is whipping for consuming alcohol considered proportional to the gravity of the offence. There is no consensus among Muslim scholars on the range of crimes for which whipping is prescribed, nor on whether women should be whipped.

Whipping as a form of punishment also violates human rights principles, in particular the right to be free from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.

Many countries have already abolished the judicial punishment of whipping or corporal punishment as research has shown that it is not an effective deterrent, even to violent or sexual crimes. Research, since abolition of whipping, also show that [doing away with this form of punishment] did not result in an increase in the offences for which whipping was previously imposed.

Given that whipping does not lead to reform nor act as a deterrent, and that it constitutes a form of cruel and degrading treatment, it is unfortunate that many Muslim countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Iran, Afghanistan and Nigeria, have resorted to introducing whipping for more and more offences. They do so in the name of Islam or the mistaken belief that it acts as an effective deterrent.

SIS believes that Islam, as a religion of compassion, calls people to the way of God with wisdom, as expressed in Surah An-Nahl,16:125, “Invite all to the way of the Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching, and reason with them in the ways that are best and most gracious.”

The goal of Islamic authorities is to prevent crime in the first place, not to inflict severe punishment as a first resort. Promoting and protecting the human rights of the ummah, ensuring socio-economic justice, educating the ummah about God’s teachings and laws in order that they become responsible for abiding by them out of faith, are prerequisites before any punishment can be implemented.

SIS therefore urges the government to conduct a review of severe forms of punishments which violate human rights principles, and where evidence shows that they fail to deter or to reform the offenders.

Dr Hamidah Marican
Executive director
Sisters in Islam

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6 Responses to “Whipping violates human rights”

  1. OrangRojak says:

    Wouldn’t it be better to ask for a review of whipping, rather than “whipping for women”? I think any attempt to justify different treatment for women undermines the cause of equal rights.

  2. barliais says:

    Western concept of human rights and Islam’s concept of human rights is dfferent.

    In Islam, Allah’s rights is most important. Please stop confusing yourself and everyone.

    Whipping will make sure that the sins commited [are removed] (menebus dosa). If you really care for your sisters and want them to go to heaven, then you must support whipping.

  3. Curmudgeon, Subang Jaya says:

    Yes, whipping of women is abhorrent. Whipping of anyone offends human decency and shames any government or judicial authority that has recourse to such savage measures.

    Whipping for any offence is a disgrace. For the hardly heinous crime of drinking a glass of beer? Surely this is not the way of a compassionate God or society. Nor is it any part of the basis upon which this nation was founded. If the Tunku were alive today he would be ashamed, astounded, and revolted.

    People may think this is God’s law. They are entitled to think so. But others are no less entitled to think otherwise. Those who truly think this is God’s requirement are quite free to go and live in a country whose laws stand on that foundation. They might try Saudi Arabia.

    But Malaysia here is not such a nation. It was not created as a supposedly heavenly yet brutal playground or as an experimental social laboratory for establishing a Regime of Fearful Virtue.

    The government, the BN, and Umno at its head should have the courage to say so, loudly and unapologetically.

  4. parent says:

    I told my children that I would not cane them like their school teachers do but I still discipline them using other approaches like reading one more book, cutting down on TV or computer time, no desserts, cutting down pocket money etc. It is difficult to tell them that this “so and so and mother” will be punished by whipping because she did something she should not do. If whipping is used to discipline believers to love God and neighbours – it also implies that fear as opposite to love is the attitude one must have to show love to God and humankind.

  5. Philip Selvaraj says:


    Allah cannot be whipped or incarcerated so we are not interested in His/Its rights. Humans on the other hand can be hurt real bad physically, emotionally and psychologically and can carry the scars for a lifetime. We are pretty fragile creatures you know, especially the female sex. So you tell me how Allah who cannot be whipped can decide who gets to be whipped. Can you whip the sultans? If not, are they like Allah?

  6. Nora says:

    barliais : Whipping will make sure that the sins commited [are removed] (menebus dosa). If you really care for your sisters and want them to go to heaven, then you must support whipping.

    Heaven and hell is a byproduct of a corrupted mind. It’s people with this mind, who us such illusions as heaven and hell to delude people. They are but an illusion some religions create as a form of escape, or to make people to submit to their set of behavioral standards. It’s their Fantasy Island.

    Somebody told me, “I personally don’t believe in frightening people by telling them about heaven and hell or about day of judgment but these concepts sometimes in some people induce little sense of responsibility about their behavior and beliefs in this world but I strongly believe that if there is some deity who is my creator then it is His right that I should know him and I should be aware of all the bounties He has bestowed on me and I should be thankful to Him too for all that. Or for at least my existence.”

    My answer is “I call this Healthy Fear. But fear is fear, what purpose does it serve? To make one do certain things accordingly to the prescribed set code of conduct? Would it be more meaningful if I am to tell my child, you should not hurt anybody because it is wrong. If you do not want them to do the same to you, should you not do the same? It’s a basic lesson in humanity. So see another as yourself … a human being. Instead of telling the child: you must do good to another so that you can go to heaven … and you offer all the rewards system to them.”

    So if you see an elderly person and you help him/her to cross the road, is it because you are being guaranteed rewards or because it’s the right thing to do? You see the problem … when we always expect rewards for all our deeds yes. I have worked certain number of hours … and as such I expect such amount of money being paid to me. But in spirituality does it have to be the same? So tell me what has heaven got to do with it. Heaven is like the same as a bribe you demand. The whole concept is the joy of giving without asking anything in return – should it not be?

    I guess somebody like barliais will never understand. Don’t you understand whipping itself is an act of violence? So Allah advocates violence? Instead of using education and logic to make people understand the disadvantage of drinking alcohol you choose violence instead. Isn’t there already enough violence committed in the name of religion? The Quran quotes Allah’s command that you must kill an apostate … so you must support this also? So why are your apostates sent to jail … why don’t you ask the court to sentence them to death instead?

    Is this you call an enlightened religion?

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