Page last updated at 16:20 GMT, Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Malaysia canes three women over extramarital sex


Three Malaysian women have been caned by the authorities for having extra-marital sex, say officials.

They are the first women to receive such a sentence under Islamic law in the country.

The punishments come as another Malaysian woman waits to hear whether her caning - for drinking beer - is carried out.

Malaysia's majority Malays are subject to Islamic laws, while the large Chinese and Indian minorities are not.

Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the punishments had been carried out in a prison outside the capital, Kuala Lumpur, on 9 February.

The women were each hit up to six times. One is reported to have since been released from prison.

Officials did not say how the canings were carried out, but analysts said such punishments were usually light for women, intended to be largely symbolic.

Mosque in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

"Even though the caning did not injure them, they said it caused pain within them," the Reuters news agency quoted Mr Hishammuddin as saying.

He told state media he hoped the punishments would not be "misunderstood so much that it defiles the purity of Islam".

"The punishment is to teach and give a chance to those who have fallen off the path to return and build a better life in future," he said.

Meanwhile the case of Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarnor, sentenced to six strokes of a rattan cane for drinking beer, is being reviewed by the authorities.

She was arrested at a hotel in December 2007, but her case has been repeatedly delayed.

She has said she is willing to be caned as she respects the law, and asked for the punishment to be carried out in public.

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