With the Act 15 of 2019 amendments to the law in response to sexual offence cases in Singapore, there will now be stronger safeguards in place to protect minors below the age of 16, as well as those who are 16 to 18 from sexual grooming or exploitation from online predators, as well as family members.
In a previous article, we explained what consent is in the context of the law and in Part 1, we provided examples of what would be considered sexual offences. In this article, we’ll highlight the various laws protecting minors and what you should know if you have children.
Sexual Grooming of Minors
According to the new Section 376E of the Penal Code, any person aged 18 and above will now be liable for an offence if they initiate or agree to at least one meeting to anyone below the age of 18 that leads to a sexual offence either during or after their meeting. It also does not matter if any prior meeting between them took place in or outside of Singapore.
If the victim is below the age of 14, the punishment for this offence is imprisonment that may extend up to 4 years and/or a fine. For any other case, the punishment may extend up to 3 years imprisonment.
What this means simply is that if you have a child below the age of 18, anyone they meet who is above the age of 18 will be subject to this law. This also includes sexual communication.
What is Sexual Communication?
Even if the person never meets the victim, the new Section 376EB now states it is an offence to send any form of sexual communication to the victim. This includes inappropriate text messages, photos and videos of a sexual nature. It does not matter where it was sent from, or if the victim replies or not. The mere act of sending such communication may lead to a 2 year jail sentence and/or a fine and if the victim is below 14, the jail term may be extended to 3 years.
This also means if you have a child who has access to the internet, it’s best to activate safeguards such as spam filters and monitoring who your child is talking to either online or via their messaging apps.
There are resources available online that guide you on how to activate child protection features on commonly used apps like Whatsapp and Facebook.
Clearer Definition for Commercial Sex Cases
The new amendments on Section 376B now include the definition of what ‘sexual services’ mean in commercial sex involving minors. In a previous article, we highlighted the problem of human trafficking in Singapore and there have been cases in the past where commercial sex workers turned out to be minors.
The new amendment now clearly defines what constitutes sexual offences. The punishment for those found guilty of an offence is up to 7 years in prison and/or a fine, and for anyone who expresses any interest in the form of communication to commit such an offence, may be liable for imprisonment up to 2 years and/or a fine.
If you are currently in a situation where you may have encountered a sexual offence, or witnessed one – or if you are being accused of one, it’s best to contact a lawyer to better understand what the situation is, and what’s the best course of action to take.
Engaging a Lawyer
Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Corporation has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years from traffic offences, high-profile criminal cases – to family and divorce matters. With a vast knowledge of Singapore’s laws and a wealth of experience, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, feel free to contact us for a consultation.