SINGAPORE — A 68-year-old grandfather was sentenced to 12 years jail on Monday, after pleading guilty in the High Court to a charge of rape and sexual assault of an 11-year-old child on a staircase landing on 10 July 2020.
The child in question was his own granddaughter and the incident took place after a family dinner celebrating his wife’s birthday.
The man, who cannot be named due to a gag order to protect the victim’s identity, was 65 at that time, took the then 11-year-old granddaughter to a staircase landing which was one flight of stairs up from the ground floor of his flat, where she was sexually assaulted by him and forced her to perform oral sex.
According to the victim’s testimony, feeling disgusted after he had kissed her, she turned away when he proceeded to pull her jeans down and molested her.
The girl pulled her pants up after and tried to walk away, but he grabbed her wrist and went on to force her to perform oral sex on him.
The Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP), Lee Da Zhuan said, “The victim felt afraid and nauseated.”
He finally took her back home on the ground floor after the heinous acts were done.
His sentence includes a six-month term in place of caning. Rape offences in Singapore carries at least twelve strokes of the cane, however, he was relieved from caning due to his advanced age.
The man had also committed eight other sexual offences between June 2019 to January 2021, which included a second rape charge, indecent exposure and showing her pornographic images on his mobile phone, were also taken into consideration during his sentencing.
The DPP told the court that prior to the events, the girl had a very good relationship with both grandparents when she was younger, often visiting the couple’s flat with her mother, stepfather and step-siblings every Sunday.
“She was very close to her grandfather when she was younger, but now does not like him because of the sexual violations he has committed against her,” said Lee.
Not fully understanding her grandfather’s actions, she only came to realisation about the nature of the act when she had learned about “good touch” and “bad touch” in her Primary 6 sex education classes.
Feeling angry, the girl turned to her school counsellor and confided about the sexual acts that was done to her by her grandfather.
Ministry of Social and Family Development was immediately contacted, which saw child protection officers arriving the very next day and assisting the girl in lodging a police report against the grandfather.
He was promptly detained by the police on the very same day.
The girl had told the court in her impact statement, that she still suffers from nightmares over the traumatic incidents, has even attempted self-harm on herself and had to undergo counselling for suicidal thoughts.
She added that while she is recovering, the flashbacks still persist and as a result of the trauma, she fears older men, experiencing anxiety every time an older man sits beside her on the bus.
The grandfather’s defence counsel, Mohamad Hasbu Haneef Abdul Malik asked the court for leniency in the form of a sentence that does not exceed ten years jail term considering the grandfather’s age as well as the fact that he had pleaded guilty to the crime.
Caning for those above 50, says Singapore President
Singapore President Halimah Yacob had earlier proposed to cane rapists aged over 50 to protect the young.
On 19 December, Madam Halimah voiced her distress on Facebook about the recent surge in cases involving child rapes in their homes by male relatives, deeming it “highly disturbing and sickening.”
The Singaporean President expressed her concern that there might be numerous unreported cases and underscored the need to explore alternative means to safeguard children and prevent them from falling victim to such predators.
However, the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE), a leading gender rights advocacy group in Singapore, disagreed with the President’s proposition, calling instead for a “survivor-centric and trauma-informed” justice system as opposed to harsher penalties.
While agreeing with Madam Halimah’s concern over the potential prevalence of “many more unreported cases” in Singapore, the group stressed their opposition to the idea of considering caning for rapists over the age of 50.