Criminal Law Reform Bill offers vulnerable victims more protection
Criminal Law Reform Bill sets out harsher penalties for abusers
Physically and sexually abused by her live-in partner for more than five years, a 38-year-old woman was blinded and suffered broken bones and serious injuries to her private parts.
But she could not get a personal protection order as she was not married to him.
The abuser was sentenced to 7½ years in jail and given nine strokes of the cane.
When he was released, he found her and continued abusing her until she died.
Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam mentioned the case last November at the Aim for Zero event by the Association of Women for Action and Research.
He said the Government was looking to better protect such vulnerable victims.
Yesterday, the Criminal Law Reform Bill was read for the first time in Parliament.
It proposes enhanced protection for vulnerable victims and expands the definition of what constitutes a vulnerable victim.
If passed, those who hurt or use violence against such victims may receive up to twice the maximum punishment for their offences.
Victims who have close or intimate relationships with abusers will also be recognised by the law as vulnerable.
A close relationship includes those who live together and have frequent contact with each other. An intimate relationship includes those who share the care and support of a child, are financially dependent on each other, or share tasks and duties of daily living.
The proposed changes will also explicitly define children, persons with mental and physical disabilities, and domestic workers as vulnerable victims.
The proposed changes follow the recommendations of the Penal Code Review Committee, which was formed in 2016. It submitted its recommendations last August.
The proposed changes come in the wake of the public outcry over the deaths of two-year-old Mohamad Daniel Mohamad Nasser and Annie Ee Yu Lian, 26.
Mohamad Daniel died from a head injury in November 2015 after being abused for five weeks by his mother and her boyfriend.
Miss Ee, who was intellectually disabled, died in April 2015 after being abused by a couple she regarded as family.
New offences that aim to protect minors against sexual exploitation have also been proposed under the Criminal Law Reform Bill.
These new offences criminalise child abuse material depicting actual children and the possession, production, sale and distribution of child sex dolls. Exploitative sexual activity with minors between 16 and below 18 were also proposed as offences.
The court will determine if a relationship is exploitative by considering factors such as age difference and the degree of influence the offender has over the victim.
Exploitative relationships include teacher-student and parent-child relationships.
New offences of sexual communication with a minor, causing a minor to look at a sexual image or engaging in sexual activity before a minor were also proposed.