In our previous articles in this series, we explained what consent is, as well as details on parts of the new Act 15 of 2019 which will better protect minors under the age of 18 from sexual offences, both offline and online. This article will highlight certain sexual offences that commonly happen in Singapore and what you should know about them.

Previously, the term ‘outrage of modesty’ would be synonymous with molest, or inappropriate touching. The new Act 15 of 2019 will now include words and gestures as stated in Section 377BA:

This law is meant to address a very common grey area and clearly defines what is acceptable and what is not. What this means is that certain acts, sounds, or even an object that mimics an offensive sound may now get the offender jailed for up to a year, with a fine, or both.

Examples include an offensive nickname given to the victim, or even certain vulgar facial expressions, even if no word was uttered, as long as the victim can see it or had his/her privacy intruded. 

In a workplace setting, this could include acts like pointing out a female colleague’s physical features out loud, or placing a sex toy on their desk, even if it was meant to be a joke and in more recent cases, including in schools, the act of voyeurism.

What Exactly is Voyeurism?

According to the new Section 377BB, Voyeurism refers to the act of watching someone else committing a private act without their knowledge or permission while knowing the victim will not allow it even if asked. The closest layman term to this would be a “Peeping Tom”.

This includes acts such as:

  • Operating an equipment to commit or enable someone else to observe or record the private act such as placing hidden cameras in the victim’s room or using binoculars or image enhancing hardware to observe someone else’s private act.

  • Operating equipment to commit or enable someone else to observe or record the victim’s genitals, breasts and buttocks that otherwise would not be visible, without the victim’s knowledge or permission like rigging a toilet cubicle with a hidden camera.

  • Intentionally records someone’s genitals, breasts or buttocks, covered or not, without their permission.

The punishment for anyone found guilty of any of these offences is a jail term of up to 2 years which may include a fine and caning.

According to Section 377BB(9), ”In any proceedings for an offence under this section, where a person (A) has made a recording of another person (B) doing a private act or of B’s genitals, breasts if B is female, or buttocks (whether exposed or covered), in circumstances where the genitals, breasts or buttocks would not otherwise be visible, it is presumed until the contrary is proved that B did not consent to A making the recording.

In our next part of this series, we will explain how the new set of laws have been designed to curb the storage and distribution of such recorded materials.

Engaging a Lawyer

If you are currently in a situation that requires mediation or legal advice, it’s best to consult a lawyer who will be able to guide you through your options.

Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Corporation has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years from traffic offences, high-profile criminal cases – to family and divorce matters. With a vast knowledge of Singapore’s laws and a wealth of experience, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, feel free to contact us for a consultation.