Earlier on Tuesday (9 Feb), a man with a doctorate from the National University of Singapore (NUS) was sentenced to 18 days’ jail for molesting a woman on an MRT train.

Shen Ruifu, 54, pleaded guilty to one count of outrage of modesty in the district court.

The act took place on the journey between Ang Mo Kio and Bishan MRT stations on 12 December 2018, as reported by CNA.

What’s more, Shen had apparently made a donation to gender rights advocacy group AWARE after he committed the offence.

During his sentencing, District Judge Marvin Bay noted the donation he made, as well as his clean record and plea of guilt.

Following this, AWARE released a statement on Wednesday (10 Feb), saying that it is “not uncommon for survivors of sexual violence to request that perpetrators donate to AWARE as a gesture of contrition”.

“These donations, and others, go towards our work supporting survivors of sexual assault in Singapore,” it added.

However, AWARE asserted that a donation “should not be viewed as a ‘get out of jail free’ card”, or rather “a ‘reduction of jail term’ card” in this particular case.

It went on to say that Shen’s donation “has been used as a mitigating factor in his sentencing”, adding that token payments of this nature should not be “permitted to be suggestive of remorse unless specifically requested by the survivor”.

“Now that we understand the circumstances surrounding Shen’s donation, we are happy to return the amount to him if he wishes,” said the group.

AWARE recommended that the courts do not accept donations as a mitigating factor in future sexual assault cases.

It also expressed its disappointment upon hearing that District Judge Marvin Bay was mindful of Shen’s contributions to geo-technological sciences and the construction industry in Singapore during the sentencing.

AWARE noted that Shen’s professional achievements are “not relevant” and “should not be considered” in cases where harm has been inflicted to another person.

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