The reaction of a single mother in Malaysia after being given the death sentence for drug possession and distribution has sparked some debate on the severity of the punishment on social media.
Asked who will take care of her children
The 55-year-old woman, Hairun Jalmani, was filmed being escorted out by a policewoman, all the while wailing hysterically.
The single mother of nine children who works as a fishmonger was found with 113.9g of methamphetamine in her possession in January 2018, reported Vice.
She was sentenced to death on Oct. 15, 2021.
In a viral TikTok video by Malaysian news outlet Seehua Daily, which has been viewed over 180,000 times, Hairun is handcuffed and can be heard exclaiming loudly.
While most of her speech is muffled and unintelligible, at one point she cries out to ask who will take care of her children after her death.
Meanwhile, the policewoman at her side repeatedly tells her to calm down.
@seehuadaily 女渔贩拥毒罪名成立 #诗华日报 #TikTok新闻 #沙巴 #sabah #法庭 #court #罪犯 #guilty #刑法 #毒品 ♬ original sound - 诗华日报 See Hua Daily
According to Malaysia's Dangerous Drugs Act, anyone caught with 50g or more of methamphetamine shall be presumed to be trafficking the drug, unless the contrary is proven.
Upon conviction, a guilty individual faces a death sentence that is usually carried out by hanging.
Some social media users agreed with Hairun's sentencing.
It’s the law!— human (@ZyHuman) October 20, 2021
Wonder if it was a man who dealt drugs, would people be sympathetic?
Drugs ruin lives!
Other were up in arms following the news.
They sympathised with her situation as a single mother, and pointed out that certain circumstances could have led her to desperation.
Yes.. we all know that what she did was wrong.. but being a single mom with 9 kids... always lead to desperate measure for survival.. the system is just broken..— Drel (@drelocque) October 17, 2021
The death penalty is disproportionate to her crime. Policy consideration must also be given to her circumstances of having 9 children.— Félix 🏴 (@felix_97x) October 18, 2021
Malaysia needs to abolish the death penalty - especially for crimes of desperation.— 🏴 Dhia Rezki 🏴#LAWAN (@DhiaRezki) October 17, 2021
There is no credible evidence that the death penalty deters crime more effectively than a prison term. In fact, crime figures from countries which have banned the death penalty have not risen. https://t.co/x4GCjRfBSG
One Twitter user highlighted that the case was a result of a systemic "failure" that caused vulnerable women to be disproportionately affected by such sentences.
When a 55 year old single mother of 9 children is sentenced to DEATH for drug trafficking-such economic destitution sources from structural & institutional FAILURE to provide Malaysian women,esp from underserved communities, with access to SRHR, contraception and bodily autonomy.— Tehmina Kaoosji (@TehminaKaoosji) October 17, 2021
This stance was echoed by Amnesty International Malaysia, a non-profit organisation that focuses on human rights.
3/ Hairun’s life chances were stacked against her. She was a single mother in Malaysia’s poorest state trying to support 9 children. Her case is an example of how Malaysia’s death penalty punishes the poor w/ particular discriminations against women.https://t.co/64YqEAK4vx— Amnesty International Malaysia (@AmnestyMy) October 18, 2021
The organisation stated that 95 per cent of women in Malaysia known to be under sentence of death in 2019 were convicted for drug-related offences.
It claimed that factors such as abuse, violence and exploitation might not have been taken into account during their sentencing.
Amnesty International Malaysia also claimed that current drug policies "have failed to address the underlying socio-economic factors that increase the risks that lead people to use and sell drugs, including ill-health, denial of education, unemployment, lack of housing, poverty and discrimination."
It also called for the abolishment of the death penalty.
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Top photo from Seehua Daily / TikTok