Officials have confirmed that dozens of Malaysians charged with sexual misconduct in New Year's Day hotel raids, including a 54-year-old grandmother, will face court next month.
Malaysia's Islamic morality police arrested 58 Muslim Malays for "khalwat" or "close proximity" under religious laws that bar Muslims from being alone with a member of the opposite sex before marriage.
AdvertisementThe raids targeted 20 budget hotels in the eastern resort town of Kuantan, the capital of Pahang state.
"We will be charging them in a sharia court in February. If found guilty they face a fine and a six-month jail term," Ahmad Rafli Abdul Malek, head of the Pahang Islamic Department, told AFP.
Ahmad Rafli said the 54-year-old woman, a grandmother of eight, was caught with a 38-year-old man.
He related that when his officers knocked on their hotel door, they said: "How can we open the door. We are naked."
Malaysia has a dual-track legal system and Islamic courts can try Muslims -- who dominate the multicultural population -- for religious and moral offences.
Ahmad Rafli said the department was concerned that increasing numbers of couples were spending time alone before marriage and that this could lead to illicit sexual activity.
"Then we will face issues such as abortion and dumping of babies," he said.
Malaysia's minorities, which include ethnic Chinese and Indian communities, have complained over rising "Islamisation" of the country that is threatening its secular status.
Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, a 32-year-old part-time model, was sentenced to six strokes of the cane by an Islamic court in Pahang in July for drinking beer, although the punishment has not yet been carried out.