Friday, August 28, 2009

Human rights, women’s rights and divine authority

Human rights, women’s rights and divine authority

The beautiful Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno reminds me of the brave Lubna Ahmed al-Hussein.

Kartika is a Malaysian part-time modal while Lubna is a Sudanese former United Nations (UN) journalist. They are living in distance countries but coincidentally, they were sentenced to whipping because of their behaviors.

The Syariah High Court sentenced Kartika to a RM5,000 fine and six whippings for consuming a beer in public. While Lubna faced 40 lashes because she wore trousers instead of traditional Islamic dress in a restaurant.

However, the women faced their whipping sentences with different attitudes.

Lubna said that in order to fight for a change for the severe law and equal rights for women, she insists on appealing till the end even if she has to be lashed for 40,000 times. Other than resigning from a UN job that would have given her immunity to take on the case, she also deliberately put on the same trousers, which she was wearing when being arrested in the restaurant, during her trial in court, triggering a “trouser revolution”.

As for Kartika, she was very calm. When almost everyone, including the Prime Minister, thought that she should appeal against the court’s decision, she just quietly accepted the sentence. All she wished was just to be whipped as soon as possible. She refused to appeal or ask for a commutation.

Perhaps, Kartika’s inner world is very simple. As a Muslim, she feels very guilty for drinking a beer. Therefore, she wishes to sincerely repent to her religious belief. Also, she wants to express the most sincere repentance to Allah. She believes that she could wash her guilt away only by accepting the six whipping sentence. For her, the six lashes are also a faith-rebuilding, a spiritual cleanse, as well as an essential rehabilitation process.

However, such a simple thought will become extremely complicated when it comes to human rights, women’s rights, political power and divine authority.

From the human right perspective, whipping is inhumane. It is not conform to this era. It is a violation of human rights.

From the women’s right perspective, whipping is not applicable to women. It is also an insult to women.

From the political perspective, once the whipping sentence is carried out, it will sure shock the whole country and lose points for the government. It will also trigger criticisms from the international community, harming the country’s image as a whole.

From the common sense and rationality perspective, we are having a consensus that the authority should adjust its thoughts and repeal outdated laws, so that Malaysia is able to integrate with the world’s civilization.

But the sacred divine authority and religious issues are still a very sensitive topic in Malaysia. Sometimes, we may fall into depression, helplessness and confusion when we think about religions from the common sense and rationality point of view. (By LIM MUN FAH/Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE/Sin Chew Daily)

( The opinions expressed by the writer do not necessarily reflect those of MySinchew ) MySinchew 2009.08.27

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