MKini – Who polices the moral police?

MKini – Who polices the police? By Mariam Mokhtar

On 24 April, the latest victim of an anti-vice raid died when he slipped and fell from a window of the Jelutong Apartment complex in Selayang Heights. We must search our conscience and question the menacing role of the state in policing the morality of its people. Someone died. We know from past experience that peoples’ reputations and livelihoods are threatened. Does the end justify the means? Who polices the moral police?

police brutality sinister corruption secretsThe police and officers from the Selangor Islamic affairs department were investigating reports of ‘illicit activity’. Khalwat raids are conducted with brute force and a lack of sensitivity, designed to cause extreme humiliation. Is it surprising that even innocent people may panic?

In this particular case, are the authorities and the people who instigated the report, finally satisfied? Someone’s son has died; A college lost a student; A young girl her friend.

Malaysians must feel they are living in a Stalinesque regime where privacy is not sacrosanct and where spying on one’s neighbour, is encouraged. To add insult to injury, this case was classified as ‘sudden death’. I disagree. The people who led these raids are responsible for the man’s death. It is they who should be prosecuted and compensation be given to the man’s family.

In Islamic law, to force your way into a private home is unacceptable Surah An-Nur (24:27, 28). Any consequent death(s) will be a blood libel on the perpetrators. As the police and religious authorities were involved, then effectively the state should be sued according to Islamic law.

Furthermore, if there was an accusation of extramarital intercourse then the accuser must produce three completely independent witnesses to the actual act of penetration. If they cannot do this then the accuser can be punished for slander under Islamic law.

If the raid was on the basis of suspected extramarital sex then the entry of the home is illegal, the accusation without the production of three independent witnesses is illegal and the death is at least a blood libel, if not homicide. There are grounds for a claim on all three counts.

The victim’s family has the right to demand the execution or appropriate punishment of the murderer. Claims can be made by the victim’s family against whoever did this.

Caliph’s magnanimity

According to Islamic history, Umar (the second Caliph) thought he heard people drinking wine and jumped over their private garden wall to confront them. He later apologised and said it was unacceptable to violate people’s privacy even if it was thought that something bad was happening. Are we unable to emulate the Caliph’s magnanimity?

Malaysia is becoming more intolerant and extreme. Officials feel emboldened by the syaria laws and act with impunity. Spying, informing on others, or sneaking on couples and public humiliation are encouraged. Vigilantism is promoted. What if the purported cases are malicious acts motivated by revenge?

Legitimate hotel guests or courting couples are treated like common criminals. Hotel owners are viewed as accomplices. Our religious officials preach high morality but act like plain thugs.

There is naivety in believing that khalwat raids will condition the rest of us to act ‘properly’ with impeccable morals. That means no more erring husbands, no sex out of marriage, no drunken louts, no gambling addicts, no drug users or illegitimate children.

There seems to be a supposition that behaviour can be improved by degrading treatment. Has anyone considered educating children and young adults of the responsibilities and consequences of their actions? Do adults reinforce these modes of good behaviour? Beliefs are translated into words and action, which in turn become habits.

Does the state lack clarity? On one hand, husbands abandon their wives and fail to pay alimony and child support; Men hold the syaria courts in contempt by refusing to pay alimony; Men who abuse their wives or sexually abuse their own children.

And yet, the laws to protect victims are weak, with numerous loopholes and are hardly enforced. The existing minimal fines do not deter.

Why won’t the Minister of Women, Family and Community Development, empower Malaysian women, especially Muslim women who have unresolved marriage, divorce, child custody, alimony or property rights issues? Religious authorities claim insufficient manpower to enforce existing laws but have enough people for khalwat raids. Why?

Creeping extremism

Creeping extremism will one day affect ALL Malaysians. But it is the Muslims who must advocate for change, through dialogue and exchange of ideas. The state should not preoccupy itself with what citizens do in the privacy of their homes but instead address pressing moral and social problems like corruption, crime and drug-use.

In my simple, unscientific survey of ‘sex-education at school’, among friends and relatives whose ages range from primary-schoolchildren to 70-year-olds, none had received any sex-education. Teenagers and twenty-somethings used the internet and friends as their main source of sex-education, while those from the rural areas observed animals in the village/kampong.

For most, sex-education was condensed into half-an-hour during biology/science. When it came to Islamic studies, sex education can be summed up thus: “Sex is not allowed before marriage and so there is no need to talk about it.” Another girl was told her main aim was to keep her husband ‘happy’; the second aim was to cook him nice dishes.

Is it any wonder that the National Registration Department recorded 257,000 illegitimate births from 2000 to 2008. Between 1999 and 2003, 30,978 illegitimate children had Muslim fathers. Last year alone, 17,303 babies were born out of wedlock to Malays/Muslims. Ten babies are dumped daily in the Klang Valley. Shockingly, the law does not punish the man responsible but the woman faces 20 years imprisonment.

More frequent khalwat raids will not decrease illicit sex or illegitimate children. Why not try sex-education in schools and emphasise on forming stable relationships, feelings, attraction for the opposite sex, where babies come from, the consequences of having sex, the importance of protected sex, sexually-transmitted diseases and assuming responsibility over your actions?

Girls and boys who are ready for sex should act responsibly, use contraceptives and at least carry condoms. Nothing will deter them from having sex and it is better to have sex with contraception, than have sex and become diseased, with unwanted babies.

These discussions may be loathsome to those in authority. But then controversial ideas have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.


MKini – Who polices the police? By Mariam Mokhtar

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: