Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, a 32 year old mother of two, was found guilty of drinking beer and sentenced to six strokes with a cane by a religious (sharia) court in Malaysia.
Her sentence is the first of its kind handed down to a woman in Malaysia.
The sentence was described last month and she was taken into custody last week only to be released soon thereafter.
It seems, according to a media report, that Shukarno has won some kind of a reprieve that in effect delays her caning until the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
A further reading of the reprieve suggests that perhaps all the media attention has made the Malaysian authorities re-think carrying out the sentence.
It is reasonable to expect that the authorities will leave the sentence intact but not carry out the actual punishment.
I say 'reasonable' knowing full well that the word is grossly misplaced here.
That Islam forbids alcohol is one thing, but caning a woman for drinking (whatever amount) is an absolutely ridiculous and inhumane sentence.
This case adds to a growing list of ridiculous rulings that have come out of the Sharia courts in Malaysia.
Just recently a whole lot of misplaced official noise was made about the use of the Arabic word Allah by Christian and other non-Muslims in Malaysia
The Malaysian authorities first sought to ban the use of the word by Christian publications but relented some with the position that it could be used in non-Muslim publications if it was made clear that the publication/article was for non-Muslims.
I took the position here that no-one owns the word Allah in any context and that Malaysia had no right, even and especially in terms of the Sharia, to prescribe its usage.
For the most part, Malaysia is considered to be a moderate Muslim country. I'm not even saying that this should direct anything in terms of caning a woman for drinking alcohol or banning non-Muslims from using the word Allah.
What I am saying is that moderate or not, caning a woman for whatever reason is a crude and outdated application of Islamic law.
Since Shukarno pleaded guilty is seems most reasonable that the Sharia court may have imposed a fine or some kind of community service which would have been more in keeping, or in balance, with the charge levelled against her.
I understand that Malaysia is a self-described Islamic state. No contestation there. But surely even such a state, one with modern ambitions and achievements no less, must recognize that caning has no place in Islam or an Islamic state in the year 2009.
Let's see how this plays out.