Many sexual assault victims stay silent due to fear and guilt: Experts
Experts say males who are sexually assaulted by other males should not fear prosecution
Many victims of sexual assault suffer in silence, afraid to report the abuse because of a misplaced sense of guilt, or that their story will not be believed.
Experts also told The New Paper that males who have been sexually assaulted by members of their own sex stay silent because they fear the repercussions of Section 377A .
In addition, the stigma of homosexuality that still exists prevents some from making a report for fear of being outed.
Ms Anisha Joseph, head of Sexual Assault Care Centre, Aware, told TNP: "Younger boys are particularly impacted when they are blackmailed by the perpetrator who may threaten to reveal their sexuality publicly, especially to their parents, when they may not be ready to share it."
Section 377A criminalises sex between men, but lawyers and legal experts TNP spoke to say men who are sexually assaulted by other men should not fear prosecution.
Singapore Management University law don, Associate Professor Eugene Tan, said: "The concern is misplaced. Here, you have a situation where someone is allegedly the victim of a crime, not a situation where he is a willing partner."
He added that the Government has already indicated that it will not actively enforce Section 377A.
Assoc Prof Tan said: "Unfortunately, the criminalisation has led to this misplaced concern. I am not surprised that some activists and psychologists have expressed the view that 377A stops people from reporting assault."
Clinical psychologist Carol Balhetchet said that because of Section 377A, the male gay community is already an isolated group and by virtue of the law, they could feel they are guilty of a crime even if they are victims of sexual assault.
Ms Balhetchet said guilt is a predominant emotion in many sexual assault victims, regardless of sex or sexuality.
Some men who have been in consensual sexual relationships with male partners in the past may also not want to report an assault for fear of being prosecuted for their past encounters.
But lawyer Anand Nalachandran said : "If a victim reports a sexual assault, the issue would be the present event and not previous consent."
Lawyer Peter Low said he has not encountered a case where a victim has been prosecuted.
"The police dealing with this sort of thing know who the victim is and will be compassionate. They will go after the aggressor," he said.
Victims of sexual assault can reach out for help at Aware's Sexual Assault Care Centre hotline on 6779-0282.