Woman verbally and physically assaulted during brisk walk on Sunday in what is allegedly a hate crime in Singapore

Police allegedly said that they cannot investigate until the victim file a Magistrate’s Complaint

A woman was assaulted while out on a brisk walk as a man harassed her for having her mask down before kicking her in the chest.

The story was shared on Instagram by the woman’s daughter, Parveen Kaur, and reposted on Wake Up, Singapore’s Instagram feed on Sunday (9 May) evening.

In the account, Ms Kaur started with a disclaimer: “To anyone who says racism doesn’t exist in Singapore and we should be thankful we aren’t in countries where minorities are in physical danger, read this.”

She then described how her mother, 55-year-old private tutor Hindocha Nita Vishnubhai, works near her home and takes brisk walks to work as a daily exercise. As she is brisk walking, Madam Nita had her mask down, as it need not be donned for such an activity.

However, during one of the walks to work, Ms Kaur said a man had come up to her mother and started harassing her to put her mask on.

Ms Kaur relayed, “She explained she was brisk walking but he didn’t care. He hurled vulgarities and racial slurs at her.”

“My mum responded with a “God bless you” and the guy kicked her in the chest.”

Ms Kaur said her mum fell and landed on her back, hurting herself further. The man ran away after the incident and left the older woman “shaking in tears”.

Ms Kaur noted that her mother was too shocked to call the police at the time and turned up to work, “bleeding and shaken.”

She lamented, “Now my mum is afraid of taking a walk in her own country.”

“I can’t comprehend the hatred it would have taken to attack a complete stranger,” she added, cursing anyone who “downplays racism” in Singapore.

“All it takes is a trigger, be it anti-CECA sentiments or blaming a country in crisis for local COVID outbreaks, for silent racism to manifest into violence,” she concluded.

The incident happened as Mdm Nita was walking from Choa Chu Kang MRT station towards the stadium around 8.30 am on Friday (7 April). The Straits Times (ST) reported Mdm Nita’s account of the incident where she said, “He shouted at me to put my mask above my nose. I patiently told him that I was exercising which is why I had the mask below my nose.”

“He then started to abuse me and even used a racial slur, I was absolutely shocked. I do not like confrontation and I wanted to avoid an argument with him, so I said ‘God bless you’ and decided to walk away,” she added.

He then ran towards her and did a “flying kick”, she said.

“It was a very forceful kick which caused me to fall to the ground. I kept saying ‘he kicked me, he kicked me’. I was in complete disbelief,” said the victim, who weighs about 60kg and is 1.6m tall, according to the ST report.

The man then ran away after she fell, sustaining scratches on her hands and arms.

A bystander who saw what happened from a nearby bus stand rush to Mdm Nita’s aid.

In the caption of the Wake Up, Singapore post at 9.05 pm, it was noted that the victim has filed a police report and was told to file a Magistrate’s Complaint.

It included an unattributed quote: “Yes she did eventually make a police report on the night of the attack but their hands were tied, they can’t investigate the case without a magistrates complaint.

“She’s gonna get assessed by a doctor as the first step for the magistrates complaint.”

About an hour after the post was up on Wake Up, Singapore’s Instagram feed, social activist Ariffin Sha shared on Facebook that “it is concerning that the victim was allegedly informed by the Police to file a Magistrate’s Complaint when she filed her police report.”

He added, “Surely the Police can exercise their discretion to commence investigations without the need for a Magistrate’s Complaint? Especially so in a case where the victim is a 55-year old mother who was the victim of a vile and racist assault on the eve of Mother’s Day.”

Mr Ariffin stressed his belief that there should be more clarity from the police as to why the victim was instructed to file a Magistrate’s Complaint and what guides police discretion to not commence an investigation but ask a victim to file a Magistrate’s Complaint first.

TOC has reached out to the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Singapore Police Force yesterday for comments on the police’s position.

The Straits Times has reported that the police is investigating the man involved, believed to be in his 20s, for voluntarily causing hurt and harassment.

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