The Government announced in 2016 that it had intentions to undertake substantive reform of our criminal laws, to ensure that they remain relevant and up-to-date. A Penal Code Review Committee was convened by Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Law in July 2016, and in August 2018, they released a 500-page report on the recommendations they have made.
Project X welcomes the PCRC’s recommendations for the Penal Code, especially with regard to enhancing protections for vulnerable victims. We strongly support the repeal of marital immunity of rape, the new provisions against voyeurism, and clarifying the laws around the sexual exploitation of minors.
We have made a few recommendations to MHA and MinLaw for their consideration:
- With regard to Recommendation 29 “making of voyeuristic recordings”, it is not clear if the recommended definition includes the making of a sex tape without the knowledge and consent of the parties involved. We recommend explicitly adding this into the definition. (Example: A and B consent to sexual intercourse, but A films B without B’s knowledge.)
- We urge that women engaged in the sex industry are also recognized as vulnerable persons, due to the nature of their work and the stigma surrounding sex work, and should be seen as such. Many sex workers are afraid to come forward to report sexual crimes against them. We have documented serial rapists, men who use counterfeit notes to pay for sexual services, and men who pretend to be law enforcement officers in order to coerce sexual services from women in the sex industry. We would like to recommend that there be a/n (legislative) immunity for women who engage in the sex industry outside of the licensed brothels, who are victims of crimes greater than prostitution, which pose greater threats to public order and public safety. Such an immunity will encourage sex workers to report these crimes to the police, thereby ensuring the safety of Singaporeans at large.
- We call for the repeal of Section 377A, because, as is clear through the recommendations put forth by the PCRC, consent is a principle deeply valued by Singapore society and thusly codified in law. Section 377A’s existence threatens our commitment to valuing and respecting individual consent and bodily autonomy.