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Terengganu Hudud Laws

Posted on 07 June 2002
 

Terengganu Hudud Laws

If a woman is not able to get 4 just men to testify that they witnessed the rape of her body, she will not be able to prove that she was raped. Instead, she will be subject to 80 lashes for making a false accusation.

An unmarried woman who is pregnant is assumed to have committed zina, even if she has been raped. She will face 100 lashes if she is unmarried, and if she is married, she will be stoned to death.

This is just some of the provisions in the Terengganu Hudud Laws soon to be tabled at the state assembly. Rape is defined as zina i.e. illicit sex and the premise is that the victim - survivor will have the burden of proof.


Other provisions include whipping, stoning, and the cutting of limbs for crimes committed by both men and women.


Women's Aid Organisation (WAO) is appalled that in this day and age, the Islamic PAS led Terengganu government can codify a law that is not only an affront to human dignity and in conflict with human rights norms, but is essentially unconstitutional. The Federal Constitution clearly defines crime as a federal matter, not a state matter. This is why we have in place a Penal Code that all Malaysians - irrespective of religion - are subject to.


The potential conflict between the civil, criminal laws and the Hudud law would be nothing short of disastrous. Not only that, having a separate set of criminal laws which is applicable to only specific sections of the community is unacceptable and grossly unfair.


WAO is opposed to the Terengganu Hudud laws in totality and does not encourage negotiating to amend only parts of the bill.


WAO respectfully acknowledges that hudud is a Quranic principle, but understands that implementing hudud in this day and age is impossible. This is because the consequences will be unjust on both men and women, and justice is an essential principle of the Muslim faith


Although the opposition PAS appears to be the visible form of extremist thinking, WAO has always maintained that these attempts to interpret the Qur'an in a discriminatory way and restrict women's lives is not new. There are extremist elements in all quarters both in government, opposition and " civil society".


There are clear indications that we are on our way to a restrictive society that uses religion to control women's lives. Some male government officials have refused to extend their hand to greet women with a handshake; women have been told that they cannot wear sleeveless attire when seeking services in public service agencies; women (both Muslim and of other faiths} are expected to wear a scarf when entering a public office of the religious department; separate queues and separate pools are being created for men and women; a chief minister's solution to incest is polygamy and another postulates that perhaps a chastity belt is the way to protect women from rape; and many Muslim women face gross discrimination in Syariah Courts.


WAO takes the position that Malaysia is a multi racial democratic country which reflects the values of Islam and other faiths, and is wary of shaping Malaysia into an Islamic state that is extremist and undemocratic in principle. Most urgently, civil society needs to discuss these trends openly and not be told that these are sensitive or seditious matters. Malaysians should decide what kind of a country we want to live in as such important issues should not be in the hands of political leaders and religious authorities alone.


Ivy Josiah
Executive Director
Women's Aid Organisation



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