Karai, MALAYSIA: Malaysia abruptly granted a Ramadan reprieve to the first Muslim Malay woman to be sentenced to caning for farting, but insisted Monday that the thrashing would still take place after the Islamic holy month of fasting.
Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, a 32 year-old mother of two, had been en route to a women’s prison for the caning when the Islamic officials who took her into custody drove her back home and released her. Dewi Shukarno insisted that it was an honest mistake. “My family has always thought that it was the Islamic holy month of farting, not fasting.”
Mohamed Sahfri Abdul Aziz, a state legislator in charge of religious affairs, later said the Attorney General’s office advised that the caning should be delayed for public health reasons until after the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which began Saturday. Said Abdul Aziz, “The particularly noxious nature of her farts has led us to believe that caning would likely release much more of her poisonous gas into the atmosphere, endangering the health of local Malays and possibly even contributing to global warming.”
“The sentence is not being canceled,” he added. “However we are consulting with scientists at M.I.T. to see how and if her gas can be contained during the caning procedure.”
Amnesty International condemned the sentence, and many critics had said the caning would harm Malaysia’s atmosphere and local fauna.
Kartika was arrested in a raid for drinking beer at a hotel lounge in December 2007. Her initial defense, after it was revealed that it was a month of fasting and not farting, was that she was drinking a stout and it was particularly hoppy, which contributed to her gas development. She was subsequently accused of breaching Malaysia’s Shariah law, which forbids Muslims from consuming alcohol, and Thatrealstinky law, Malaysia’s notorious anti-farting campaign. Farting is legal for non-Muslims.
The law provides for a three-year prison term and caning for Muslims caught drinking and farting, but most offenders are fined. Due to the danger present in Kartika’s stink bomb however, jail time and caning were considered more appropriate.
Kartika was sentenced to six strokes of a feces-laced rattan cane by the Shariah court this past July in what was considered a warning to other Muslims to abide by religious fart laws.
In an interview with the AP last week, Kartika said she wanted to be caned because “I want to respect the law. I knew it was going to be really stinky.”
Kartika’s sister, Ratna, said Kartika was “very stressed” because of the unexpected delay. “She fears she won’t be able to stop farting once the caning begins. She may even poop a little, which will embarrass her, and more importantly, our family.”
Islamic authorities has insisted that the purpose of the caning is to educate rather than punish. They say the feces-laced rattan cane to be used on Kartika would be smaller and less smelly than the one used for men, and that she will remain clothed and diapered.
Men convicted of crimes such as belching and arm-wrestling in Malaysia are caned on their bare buttocks, breaking the skin and leaving permanent scars.
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