Stiffer penalties for crimes against vulnerable victims
Changes to Penal Code include harsher penalties, outlawing marital rape
Those who commit crimes against vulnerable people who cannot protect themselves can be hauled up by the police even if the offence is not an arrestable one.
If found guilty, their punishment can be twice the stipulated maximum punishment.
This comes after wide-ranging changes to the Penal Code were passed in Parliament yesterday, affording vulnerable victims stronger legal protections.
Minors will be better protected against sexual predators too. There are also new categories of sexual offences criminalising voyeurism, flashing and revenge porn.
Closing a four-hour debate, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Amrin Amin said it was the task of this generation to update, strengthen, and make relevant the almost 150-year-old criminal code.
Citing the past deaths of Mohamad Daniel Mohamad Nasser, two, and Miss Annie Ee Yu Lian, 26, which sparked massive public outcry, he said: "This is an opportunity for this House to register our strongest condemnation against acts that harm the most vulnerable among us."
Mohamad Daniel died from a head injury in November 2015 after being abused for five weeks by his mother and her boyfriend.
Miss Ee, who was intellectually disabled, died in April 2015 after being abused by a couple she regarded as family.
Mr Amrin said: "It is our duty to protect our society against predators like Joshua Robinson and ensure they get the justice they deserve."
Robinson was jailed for four years for having sex with two 15-year-old girls and filming the acts. The authorities seized 5,902 obscene films from his apartment, including 321 films of child pornography.
Also citing these cases, Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam set out the new offences and enhanced penalties earlier in the day.
PROTECTING VULNERABLE VICTIMS
- Children under 14, those with mental or physical disabilities and domestic workers are considered vulnerable.
- Victims who have close or intimate relationships with abusers will also be recognised as vulnerable
- New offences include causing death by sustained abuse, and a failure by persons who owe the victims a care of duty to protect them. The courts will consider if those accused are victims of abuse themselves.
- Causing or allowing the death of a vulnerable victim is also a crime and deals with ambiguity over who caused or permitted the victim's death.
- Sexual exploitation of minors between 16 and 18 is now an offence, and those who exploit minors below 16 they are in a relationship of trust with, face stiffer penalties.
- Only one instance of prior contact with a minor, instead of two, is required for the offence of sexual grooming and offenders can be as young as 18, down from 21.
- Sexual communication with minors, showing a minor a sexual image and having sex in the presence of a minor are crimes.
- Owning, distributing, advertising or seeking child abuse material is criminal, as is the production of such material and the use or procurement of a child to do so. The latter three offences are extra-territorial.
- Child sex-dolls are banned.
- Men will no longer have legal immunity for raping their spouses.
- Men can be considered rape victims as the definition of rape now includes non-consensual penile-anal and penile-oral penetration.
- Attempted suicide is no longer an offence, but the abetment of suicide remains a crime with harsher penalties. The latter includes physician-assisted suicides.
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