Singapore

Transgender jailed 10 years for sexual assaults

Court of Appeal had earlier overturned judge's ruling that acquitted her because of her sex

A transgender who is biologically female, but lives as a man, was yesterday jailed 10 years for sexual penetration of a minor.

Zunika Ahmad, 40, had initially been cleared by a lower court which had ruled a woman could not be convicted of the crime.

The sentence came after a decision by the Court of Appeal on Sept 28 that a woman can be just as guilty as a man for the crime of sexual penetration of a minor.

The three-judge court found the previous judge, who had acquitted Zunika of six counts of sexual penetration of a minor, had erred in his interpretation of the law.

The previous judge had ruled that because of the way the law was worded, Zunika could not be guilty of the crime when she used a sex aid on a 13-year-old, despite her pleading guilty to the offences.

Diagnosed with gender dysphoria, Zunika speaks, dresses and behaves like a man.

She was so convincing that her two "wives" did not know their "husband" was a woman until her sexual abuse of the girl who lived in the neighbourhood came to light.

The girl and her siblings, who were abandoned by their mother, started going to Zunika's flat in 2011.

In January 2012, Zunika kissed the victim on the cheek.

Between March 2012 and December 2013, she had regular consensual sex with the girl using a sex aid.

Zunika stopped the affair in December 2013.

QUARREL

Three months later, the girl told her family about the acts after a quarrel with Zunika. A police report was made.

The prosecution sought eight years' jail, arguing that Zunika had abused the trust put in her by the girl's father, who had allowed his daughter to visit the accused's flat.

But in an unexpected twist, Senior Judge Kan Ting Chiu rejected Zunika's plea of guilt on the six counts of sexual penetration and acquitted her in April.

He set eight months' jail for another sexual exploitation charge.

The judge decided that the law was worded in such a way only a person with a penis can be convicted of the offence, and said it was better for Parliament to amend the law to make it clear a woman can be found guilty as well.

But the Court of Appeal agreed with the prosecution that it was clear from the literal meaning of the provision that it was gender-neutral.

- The Straits Times

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