In our previous articles in this series, we explained what consent is, and how the new amendments to the law will better protect minors. In this article, we will explain the new laws regarding commercial sex, especially involving minors.
While commercial sex itself is not illegal in Singapore, any activity involving minors under the age of 18, even just touching of a sexual nature, as included in the Act 15 amendment of 2019, Section 376B(4) will be enough to classify it as commercial sex with a minor under 18 which carries a jail term of up to 7 years, with fines and caning.
Commercial Sex Outside of Singapore
To eradicate the problem of sexual offences involving minors among Singaporeans, The Act 15 amendment of 2019 will now also include the same sexual offences being committed by Singaporeans in other countries, making them liable for punishment as if they had committed the offence in Singapore.
This includes visiting or procuring the services of underaged sex workers or participating in illegal sex tours in other countries, as well as establishing or maintaining an inappropriate sexual relationship with a minor even if they only communicate online and never actually meet.
The new act will also address online sexual communication, such as sending inappropriate messages or media to a minor under 18 living in a different country. The law will now treat it as if the minor too was in Singapore when the offence was committed and the offender may be jailed up to 7 years, with fines and caning.
These laws are applicable to all Singapore citizens and Permanent Residents.
Better Protection for Minors Under 16
The new Section 376E includes protection against sexual grooming of minors under the age of 16. In this new act, anyone above the age of 18 is liable for an offence if he/she either communicates, or even shows any intent towards an inappropriate relationship whether the minor is in Singapore or not.
The punishment for such offences can be extended to 3 years in jail, including a fine, if the victim is below 18, and up to 4 years in prison if the victim is below the age of 14.
Sexual Offences Involving Victims with Mental Disabilities
The new Act 15 of 2019 will now also protect victims with mental disabilities. This includes acts where the offender either touches the victim inappropriately, or makes the victim perform a sexual act on another person.
The definition of mental disability according to the law is “an impairment of or a disturbance in the functioning of the mind or brain resulting from any disability or disorder of the mind or brain which impairs the ability to make a proper judgement in the giving of consent to sexual touching;”
What is different with this new act is that in a case where the victim has a mental disability, their consent to the sex act may not be valid whether or not, the victim is the offender’s spouse. If there is reason to believe that the offender knows that the victim has a mental disability and had issued threats or deception to exploit and induce the sex act, then the person will have committed an offence.
Anyone found guilty of this offence can be jailed up to 5 years, with a fine, or caning, and if the touching involved sexual penetration of any sort, the offender may be liable to up to 20 years in prison, with a fine, or caning.
Engaging a Lawyer
If you are currently in a situation that requires mediation or legal advice, it’s best to consult a lawyer who will be able to guide you through your options.
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.