Rights activists blast caning of Malaysian lesbian women

Rights activists blast caning of Malaysian lesbian women
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Human rights activists are upset following the caning on Monday of two Malaysian women who were convicted of "sexual relations between women."

“This is a terrible day for LGBTI rights, and indeed human rights, in Malaysia," Amnesty International’s Malaysia Researcher Rachel Chhoa-Howard said in a statement. "To inflict this brutal punishment on two people for attempting to engage in consensual, same-sex relations is an atrocious setback in the government’s efforts to improve its human rights record."

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The women, ages 22 and 32, were struck with a cane six times, according to news reports. They were sentenced to the caning in August by a Shariah court in Terengganu.

Linda Lakhdhir, a legal adviser in the Asia Division of Human Rights Watch, told CNN that the caning demonstrates that the religious right is "flexing their muscles and making clear that the laws against LGBT activity will be enforced in their state."

But Muslim Lawyers' Association deputy president Abdul Rahim Sinwan told the Associated Press that the punishment isn't painful and is designed to educate the women so they repent.

"Repentance is the ultimate aim for their sin," he said, according to the AP.