Singapore seeks to crack down on unwanted dick pics, marital rape, revenge porn and child sex dolls

Photo: xiquinhosilva / Flickr
Photo: xiquinhosilva / Flickr

The Criminal Law Reform Bill was given its first reading in Parliament today, providing a much-needed update about what’s legal and what’s not in Singapore in the modern age.

Last reviewed in 2007, the Penal Code will soon be undergoing a revamp again to tackle emerging crime trends following two years of studies and feedback from engagement sessions held with stakeholders from the legal, social, religious, financial and education sectors.


Decriminalizing attempted suicide

One of the many much-anticipated proposals made: officially decriminalizing attempted suicide in Singapore. Currently, suicide is considered illegal in Singapore, and anyone convicted can be punished with up to a year in jail and/or a fine. There was even a local urban legend of sorts that suggested that the corpses of those who successfully committed suicide are usually handcuffed by the police.

In reality, however, punishment is rarely enforced, and though folks have been arrested before, a minuscule number of them were actually brought to court.

It was recommended by the Penal Code Review Committee (PCRC) that people who attempt suicide should be provided with help rather than be penalized.

“The repeal of attempted suicide does not mean that the Government has shifted its position on the sanctity of life,” noted the Ministry of Home Affairs.

“This is reflected through the continued criminalization of the abetment of attempted suicide, as well as amendments to other legislation to provide the Police with the powers to intervene to prevent loss of life or injury in cases of attempted suicide.”

Repealing marital immunity for rape

It seems pretty overdue, but PCRC proposed marital immunity for rape to be repealed to protect all woman — married or not — from sexual abuse.

The government agreed with the recommendation, affirming that all women should be protected from sexual abuse regardless of whether they are married to the perpetrator.

“This reflects society’s view that marriage is a partnership between equals.”

Currently, under Singapore law, a man who forces his wife to have sex with him is not guilty of rape unless they are living apart during divorce proceedings or if the wife has a personal protection order against the husband. Before 2007, Singapore did not even recognize marital rape.

The definition of “rape” is also advised to be expanded to include non-consensual penile-anal and penile-oral penetration.

The maximum penalty for rape is 20 years’ imprisonment, as well as a fine or caning.

Cyber-flashing and revenge pornography

Unwanted dick pics could be outlawed soon as well. Not just pictures of penises of course, but all non-consensual images of genitalia — classily referred to as “cyber-flashing”.

“The Government accepts the PCRC’s recommendations, and has also taken in feedback by representatives from the legal sector to criminalize ‘cyber-flashing’” wrote MHA.

“This would cover situations where images of genitalia are sent to recipients without their consent, and with the intention to cause humiliation, distress or alarm.”

Blackmailing people with threats to send out their intimate pictures and videos — also known as “revenge porn” — will also be considered an offense.

Other key amendments (including sex dolls)

The proposals that got the most resounding yes is to enhance punishments for offenses committed against vulnerable victims — namely children, persons with mental or physical disabilities, domestic workers, as well as the elderly.

In particular, the committee has proposed that new legislation be introduced to criminalize the production, distribution, advertising, or possession of child abuse material.

The PCRC has recommended that folks found guilty of committing such offenses could be sentenced with up to twice the maximum punishments currently implemented.

Then there’s the part about, uh, sex dolls.

“In response to technological advancements that have facilitated the production of child sex dolls, the Government has decided to criminalize the possession, production, sale, and distribution of these dolls.”

The United Kingdom and Australia have already banned the importation and distribution of child sex dolls — anatomically-correct replicas of young girls and boys made by a Japanese pedophile. He has been shipping life-like child sex dolls to clients around the world for more than a decade.

“We should accept that there is no way to change someone’s fetishes,” he told The Atlantic in a 2016 interview. “I am helping people express their desires, legally and ethically. It’s not worth living if you have to live with repressed desire.”


The second reading of the Criminal Law Reform Bill is expected to take place in May.

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