Beer-drinking Malaysian Model Starts Community Service

KUANTAN

A MALAYSIAN Muslim model who escaped caning for drinking beer gave herself up to religious authorities on Friday to begin a three-week community service at a children’s home.

Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, a 33-year-old mother of two, was sentenced last year to six lashes and a fine by a religious court in the moderate Muslim-majority country in a case that triggered outrage among rights groups.

A teary-eyed Kartika gave herself up to the religious enforcement office in the central state of Pahang – where she was caught drinking in a hotel bar – after the state ruler decided to commute her sentence.

“I am ready to accept my punishment. I am strong,” Kartika told reporters. “I am going to miss my two children the most.”

Religious officials declined comment as they escorted Kartika to the children’s home.

Alcohol is widely available in Malaysia but is forbidden for Muslim Malays, who make up 60 percent of the population. They can be fined, caned, or jailed for up to three years but prosecutions are extremely rare.

Three other women were caned in February for having sex out of wedlock in the first such punishment under Islamic law in Malaysia. The cases have fuelled debate over rising “Islamisation” of the multi-ethnic nation.

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