Rape In Singapore
“I am so much better than your boyfriend.”
“Leave him, please. I can support you better than him.”
“I love you,”
These words were what 26-year-old Yap Jun Cheng could have cajoled to his unsuspecting victim behind closed doors. Yap had befriended a Malaysian woman he met on Facebook. Her female friend had come to Singapore to look for work but one thing led to another and Yap had raped, forced her into performing oral sex, even depriving her of her shorts and underwear after the act. On June 13th, 2017, Yap was sentenced to 14 year in jail and 22 strokes of the cane.
Yap’s case is only the most recent of a long list of rape-related cases in Singapore. Rape is a deplorable act by societal standards but the offenders are humans still. It may have been an act of impulse or was intoxicated when the act occurred. If you know someone that facing time for a sexual crime or you yourself thinking that you may have committed an act or rape before, then maybe this article is for you.
Rape Laws in Singapore
What constitutes as rape in Singapore is rather straightforward. Based on Section 375(1) of the Penal Code, “any man who penetrates the vagina of a woman with his penis without her consent; or with or without her consent, when she is under 14 years of age, shall be guilty of an offence,” and will be considered to have committed rape.
What this means is that legally, a man cannot claim to have been raped. However, according to Section 376 of the Penal Code, if you had been sexually penetrated or made to sexually penetrate with your penis against your will, you can claim that you have suffered a case of sexual assault by penetration.
Anyone found to be guilty of these offences can be sentenced up to 20 years of jail time, and shall be liable to fine or caning, depending on the severity of the case.
That being said, the usual defence that an offender would take up in Court is that the both of you had voluntary sex. However, there is a fine line between a passionate night of lovemaking and rape, which is consent between the two parties.
Consent here refers to the consent to sexual penetration and this consent can be withdrawn at any point in time. A woman may initially have voluntarily consented to have sexual relations with her boyfriend but if along the way she does not feel comfortable and wishes to stop, any further sexual penetration by her partner will be considered as rape.
Sentencing Framework for Rape
So why then does a sentence vary so much for what seems to be similar cases of rape? When Judges pass a sentence, they will make reference to relevant past cases involving similar offences as well as cases that have similar circumstances and considerations. As such, offenders that have committed the same or similar level of crime would be given the same punishment to ensure that there are consistency and fairness in sentencing.
As of May 2017 and in the case of Ng Kean Meng Terence v PP, the Singapore Court of Appeal had updated their framework in sentencing rape cases. Rape cases are to be assessed based on “offence-specific” factors which relate to the “manner and mode” by which the rape was committed. These include:
1) Group rape
2) Abuse of position and breach of trust:
3) Premeditated rape
5) Rape of a vulnerable victim
6) Forcible rape of a victim below 14
7) Hate crime
8) Severe harm to victim
9) Deliberate infliction of special trauma
The new framework does away with broad benchmark sentences in favour a flexible band on a ‘continuum of seriousness.’ The presence of more than one of these factors will usually place that offence within the second band of offending.
Band 1: Rapes of this band occur at the ‘lower end’ of the spectrum of seriousness. Zero to limited offence-specific aggravating factors are present in the offence. Sex with a minor below the age of 14 with her consent would usually fall within the upper end of this banding. It must be noted that the offence must have been consensual. A non-consensual statutory rape would usually fall under band 2 and above.
The range of sentence: 10 – 13 years’ jail and six strokes of the cane.
Band 2: Rapes of a “higher level of seriousness”, usually contain two or more offence-specific aggravating factors. A combination of serious violence that have occurred over an extended period of time resulting in grievous and long-lasting injuries, be it physical or psychological, will fall under the middle and upper reaches of Band 2.
An example of a Band 2 case is that of Public Prosecutor v Robiul Bhoreshuddin Mondal. The offender had broken into a house late at night and raped a domestic helper. The offender was familiar with the premises because he had done some gardening work for the neighbouring house and he waited for an opportune moment before breaking in. During the course of the rape, he threatened to kill her if she did not remain quiet. More than one offence-specific aggravating factors were present, resulting in the case being classified as a low-level band 2 case.
It is important to note that as one moves further up the band, the number, as well as the severity of the aggravating factors, increase.
The range of sentence: 13 – 17 years’ jail and 12 strokes of the cane.
Band 3: Extremely serious cases of rape that are due to the number and intensity of the aggravating factors fall under this band. Rape cases of this nature would feature victims with particularly high degrees of vulnerability and/or serious levels of violence attended with perversities.
One such case is Public Prosecutor v ABJ  2 SLR 377 (“ABJ”), where the offender had sexually abused his friend’s daughter over a period of seven years since she was 8 years old. The offender had raped, anally penetrated, forced her to fellate him, and penetrated her with various objects, which resulted in the victim to have suffered lasting psychological damage to the point where she would self-mutilate her body in an attempt to forget the trauma.
These actions are considered “depraved and wanton” due to the young age of the victim and as such, the highest amount of punishments will be meted out for such cases to ensure deterrence of these form of crimes where the offender if at large, will likely to pose a danger to women.
The range of sentence: 17 – 20 years’ jail and 18 strokes of the cane.
Aggravating and Mitigating Factors to the Offender
The Court will also take into account aggravating and mitigating factors which are personal to the offender to calibrate the sentence. These factors relate to the offender’s particular personal circumstances and which should not have been taken into account in determining what band the offence came under. Mitigating factors that could reduce an offender’s sentence would include a plea of guilt for example. How remorse the offender is, or the extent to which it will spare the victim the ordeal of testifying will be taken into account by the Court when assessing the mitigating value of the offender’s plea of guilt.
How Can We Help You
Cases involving outrage of rape are delicate cases for you to deal alone. Everyone deserves a second chance. At I.R.B Law LLP we have experienced Criminal Litigation Lawyers who are passionate about justice and fairness. Our lawyers will be able to guide you through Singapore’s Criminal Justice System and each and every stage of the proceedings. We firmly believe that everyone should be entitled to a second chance and be allowed the opportunity to turn over a new leaf and live life anew. Should you be in a position where you may need our assistance, please do not hesitate and contact us at Hello@irblaw.com.sg or call us at +65 6589 8913 so that we can advise you on your matter.
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