What you should know about rape laws in Singapore

How much do you know about laws regarding rape in Singapore? With the #metoo movement going on around the world, it may be a good time to learn about how Singapore’s law deals with the matter.

Around the world, there are different laws regarding rape – some punish the perpetrators, while some actually punish the person who was raped.

‘Marry Your Rapist’ Law

The ‘Marry Your Rapist’ Law basically lets men or boys avoid punishment or prosecution for rape, sexual violence, abduction, or similar acts if they marry their victims.

The law argues that it solves two problems: the marriage legalises the rape (in countries where marital rape is legal), and supposedly shields the survivor because they would not have to report their sexual assault from fear of shame and possible murder by family members.

This law is still legal in many countries.

The Philippines still has this ‘Marry Your Rapist’ law. In Thailand, the perpetrator is free from prosecution if he marries his victim, but only if she is underage.

This law can exist in countries where marital rape is legal.

But what about in Singapore?

Rape is definitely illegal, and there is no ‘marry your rapist’ clause in the Singapore constitution. The maximum penalty for rape is 20 years’ imprisonment, as well as a fine or caning. However, it doesn’t mean all rapists are punished.

In Singapore, rapists can actually walk free if the victim ‘forgives’ them.

Marital rape was only outlawed in 2007 in Singapore, but it only applies to couples who are already separated (ie. if they are living apart, or of the one has obtained a personal protection order against the other). The law is still finding it difficult to consider a forced act of sex as ‘rape’ when it comes to couples who are still married and living together (basically those in unhappy or violent marriages). However, a review of the penal code regarding marital rape will be tabled at Parliament in November this year.

Many countries have repealed the ‘Marry Your Rapist’ law

Recently, the law has been repealed in Palestine (May 2018), as well as other Middle Eastern nations like Jordan, Lebanon, and Tunisia (2017), and El Salvador (2017). While countries in the west have all repealed the law, Denmark only repealed it in 2013, later than France (1994) and Italy (1981).

Such laws deny justice to the victim, send a signal that rape is not a serious offence and shift the stigma of shame to the survivor rather than the perpetrator.

Read more about this ‘Marry Your Rapist’ law, and other useful things in our latest issue of Campus here or pick up your free copy at your school.