Over the last five years, MSF-funded Family Service Centres (FSCs) reported an average of 1,400 cases annually where family violence was one of the presenting problems. FSCs may refer cases to the three Family Violence Specialist Centres (FVSCs) for more specialised intervention. Family violence may co-exist with other issues such as family and marital disputes.
Victims can also approach the FVSCs directly. In recent years, FVSCs have worked on an average of 900 family violence cases annually.
At the 25th session of the 13th Singapore Parliament, Mr Saktiandi Supaat from Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC asked the Minister for Social and Family Development (MSFD) the following questions:
- For the past three years, what is the number of cases of abused women and their children who have sought help from the Ministry for temporary shelter;
- On average, how long did they stay at these shelters; and
- Whether there is a need for more shelters to be set up.
The minister replied that FSCs and FVSCs assist family violence victims so that they can remain safely with their families and friends. Where necessary, referrals are made to crisis shelters for temporary accommodation.
Over the last three years, an average of 240 abused women and their children sought refuge each year at the four crisis shelters funded by the MSFD. Their average length of stay was four months.
As the shelters still have sufficient capacity, MSFD currently does not have plans to set up more shelters but it will continue to monitor the adequacy of its services.
Persons who require legal protection in addition to community support can apply for a Personal Protection Order (PPO) at the Family Justice Courts.
Over the last five years, the Family Justice Courts received an average of about 3,000 PPO applications annually. An average of 1,200 applications (or about 40% of applications) were issued with an order each year.
At the present Singapore has four crisis shelters:
- Singapore Anglican Community Services’ Family Care Centre,
- Good Shepherd Centre,
- Star Shelter,
- Casa Raudha Women Home, which caters mainly to wives and girlfriends fleeing abusive partners.
Their locations can not be disclosed, to ensure the safety of those living there.
The family violence victims will be offered protection, help, and emotional support in the crisis shelters while they regain control of their lives.
The Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) stated that family violence as defined by the Women’s Charter as follows:
- willfully or knowingly placing or attempting to place a family member in fear of hurt
- causing hurt to a family member by an act which he or she ought to know would cause and result in hurt
- wrongful confining or restraining a family member against their will
- causing continual harassment with intent to cause anguish to a family member, including verbal abuse, psychological or emotional abuse.
And the following acts are considered to be acts of family violence:
- Physical acts such as punching, kicking, pushing, choking, slapping, bruising or hitting with objects
- Denial of food or water, sleep, shelter or medicine
- Unwanted sexual behavior such as forcing sexual activity on the family member, including one’s spouse
- Insulting or humiliating a person
- Intimidating a person by screaming, making threats, harassment or destroying property
- Emotional blackmail or using emotions to manipulate a person
- Demeaning a person in front of others or in public places
- Monitoring and controlling a person’s activities and relationships
- Persistent hostility, including ignoring or blatantly rejecting a person
- Confining a person within the home or stopping a person from going somewhere
Family violence is closely related, and more often resulted, in annulment of marriage. The chart from the government data base shows that the rate of annulment is decreasing last year, but wives in productive ages dominate the number of marriages annulment.