PETALING JAYA: A PAS lawmaker is getting a tongue-lashing from rights groups for suggesting that out-of-wedlock pregnancies be punished by caning.
Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin, a member of the G25 group of eminent Malays, said it indicated a worrying obsession with punishment.
“They are obsessed with punishment instead of ways to improve the welfare of Muslims. They think punishing Muslims will solve the world’s problems,” she said.
She was commenting on Pasir Puteh MP Datuk Dr Nik Mazian Nik Mohamad’s suggestion that caning for zina (illicit sex) should be implemented to prevent innocent babies born from unlawful unions.
Dr Nik Mazian, who was speaking in Parliament, had suggested that the punishment be included in PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s Private Member’s Bill to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 or RUU355.
Noor Farida said focus should be on ensuring justice for single mothers and other women victimised by their husbands but instead, they face great difficulty getting justice due to delays and bureaucratic red tape in the Syariah Court.
“It is so easy for a man to marry up to four wives but for a woman to get custody rights or nafkah (maintenance) can take years,” she said.
Lawyer Siti Zabedah Kassim also slammed the suggestion.
“Is this the kind of people we want to trust administering the country, when they are ruining the perception of Islam?” she asked.
She said PAS, rather than just punishing children, should instead think of a kinder way to instil them with good moral values.
“You think that just by whacking, people will change? No, it will never change their behaviour. It should be about educating people,” she said.
MCA vice-president Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun said it was unrealistic for PAS to propose a stiffer punishment because it will not deter out-of-wedlock pregnancies.
“Instead, it will encourage baby dumping, as most unwed mothers would do this to avoid being caught.”
Women’s Aid Organisation advocacy manager Yu Ren Chung said the solutions to society’s problems need to be based on evidence.
“Underage pregnancies can be reduced by ensuring girls and boys have access to comprehensive sex education,” he said.
Age appropriate sex education, he added, was effective because it has been shown to delay sexual activity among teenagers and increase safe sex when they choose to have sex.