Singapore to review penalties for sexual offences, to consider new offences: Shanmugam

Photo illustration: Ngau Kai Yan
Photo illustration: Ngau Kai Yan

SINGAPORE: Punishments for sexual offences and new penalties for sexual crimes targetting women and children on the Internet are being reviewed by the Government, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law K Shanmugam said on Monday (Nov 27).

In a Facebook post, Mr Shanmugam said that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has focused on helping women subjected to sexual assault in recent years, citing initiatives announced in February to better protect victims.

“I intend more changes to the law,” wrote Mr Shanmugam. “Next year, we will move to deal with how women (amongst others) can be cross-examined, in sexual assault cases, how they can give evidence in court from a safe space, and some other changes.”

“I hope to also re-look at issues surrounding marital rape, which at present is an offence only under limited circumstances,” he added. “We made some amendments in 2007. We will see if more can be done.”

Last year, Singapore said it was actively working towards repealing a law that exempts husbands from being charged with raping their wives.

The adequacy of current laws on child pornography and sexual offences against minors is also under review, Mr Shanmugam had said in Parliament earlier this year.

The minister’s announcements on Monday coincide with a 16-day international campaign to raise awareness against gender-based violence.

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign runs from Nov 25 – International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women – to Dec 10, Human Rights Day.

“We will maintain our strong rule of law and safe environment,” added Mr Shanmugam.

“And together with the other changes to the law that will be made, we will make Singapore one of the best places in the world for young girls to grow up and become fulfilled, confident adult women with a life full of possibilities.” – CHANNEL NEWS ASIA

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