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Centre could tackle under-reporting of sex crimes


People who have been sexually assaulted may feel they have more reasons not to report it, than go to the police - often fearing they have too little evidence, or that no one will believe them.

Some are frustrated after coming forward, having to make multiple trips to different agencies.

Others find themselves in a tough spot in court, revisiting a traumatic incident during cross-examination.

A new one-stop centre set up by the police and the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) at the Police Cantonment Complex aims to reduce such stress.

It is among initiatives announced by the Ministry of Home Affairs last Friday to support victims of sexual crimes.

This follows a review of investigation and court processes, revealed last August as Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam criticised lawyer Edmund Wong, who defended his client's molestation charge by focusing on the victim's breasts and attractiveness.

Now, those who make police reports within 72 hours of being raped will be seen by SGH doctors at the centre, which also provides victim care support. They will also be interviewed by the police there.

PROCESSES

Laws and court processes will be strengthened to reduce victims' trauma.

About 150 rape cases are reported in a year, and there are many who do not go to the police.

Measures like the one-stop centre could tackle under-reporting, looking at Japan's experience.

A similar centre in the Nagasaki prefecture opened last April and has received more than 200 inquiries, compared to a dozen inquiries on sexual violence received by the authorities a year previously.

One hopes that Singapore's new initiatives will have a similar effect, helping to ensure that perpetrators do not get off scot-free.

Singaporerapesexual assault