Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Amrin Amin. Source: CNA

Revenge porn, voyeurism and “stealthing” to be part of sexual offences under Penal Code amendments

Revenge porn, voyeurism and “stealthing” will soon be classified as sexual offences under the Penal Code with the passing of the Criminal Law Reform Bill on Mon (6 May).

The introduction of the Bill is in tandem with technological developments and the use of smartphones as a medium through which perpetrators often commit such sexual offences.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Amrin Amin, who co-chairs the Penal Code Review Committee, told Parliament on Mon that the new provisions will be enforced early next year.

Revenge porn entails the dissemination of – or threats to disseminate – images and videos of victims engaging in sexual acts on websites and elsewhere without the victims’ consent, and is often perpetrated by ex-partners after the end of a romantic relationship with the victims.

Those found guilty of distributing content involving “revenge porn” may be subject to up to five years’ imprisonment, with an option of a fine and caning. Should the victim be under 14 years of age at the time the offence was committed, the perpetrator’s jail term will be mandatory.

Voyeurism, which encompasses acts such as taking upskirt photos and filming someone in the nude without their consent and knowledge such as the recent case involving NUS undergraduate Monica Baey, is currently an offence under the Insult of Modesty provisions of the Penal Code, and the Films Act.

Those found guilty of voyeurism under the new provisions will face a maximum prison sentence of two years, in comparison to the one-year maximum under Section 509 of the Penal Code. In addition to the maximum of two years’ imprisonment, caning will also be included as an option in sentencing.

“Stealthing”, which occurs when a man removes his condom prior to or during sexual intercourse without the knowledge and consent of his partner, and lying or misrepresenting the state of one’s sexual health including the presence of sexually transmitted diseases, will also be included as a part of sexual offences under the Penal Code.

The changes were introduce to protect victims’ and to punish perpetrators for violating the sexual and bodily autonomy of victims, as such offences may open the path to serious health and psychological risks on the part of the victims.

The protection of minors, namely any victim under the age of 18, from the crimes of sexual “grooming” and other forms of child sexual abuse, will also be included under the new list of offences under the Penal Code changes.

In addition to provisions relating to sexual offences, the new Bill will also decriminalise attempted suicide as a means of fighting stigma against persons who attempt suicide and as a way of protecting the fragile and vulnerable emotional states of such persons.

However, Mr Amrin stressed that the decriminalisation of attempted suicide is not an approval of suicide, as the Singapore Government will continue to prioritise “the sanctity of life”, which means that the police and the civil defence forces will intervene and rescue persons attempting suicide.

Assisted suicide such as voluntary euthanasia will continue to be an offence, and those found guilty will be subject to up to 10 years of imprisonment, in addition to more severe punishments if the victim is a minor or a person deemed to lack the required mental capacity to go through such procedures.