Proposed changes to Women's Charter get public approval

Proposed changes to Women's Charter get public approval

The public is in favour of the mandatory parenting programme (MPP) and were particularly supportive of its focus on putting the child's interest first in divorce cases, says MSF.

SINGAPORE: There were 260 instances of feedback to the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) for the amendments to the Women's Charter bill, and "the majority" were in support of the changes.

This was according to the MSF, which said in its press release on Monday (Dec 7) that the public favoured the mandatory parenting programme (MPP) and were particularly supportive of its focus on putting the child's interest first in divorce cases. However, it did not state what "the majority" constituted.

"The new MPP is intended for parties who cannot agree on the divorce or ancillary matters, as their divorce proceedings could become acrimonious and more adversely affect the children," the ministry said.

The public also supported the proposal to void Marriages of Convenience and to enhance the protection for women, girls, residents at places of safety and professionals engaged in protection work, it added.

MAINTENANCE FOR MEN GETS MIXED RESPONSE

One suggestion which MSF considered was to include live-in partners within the coverage of the Women's Charter, so that they can seek protection under the amended law.

"However, doing so will affect how a family is defined and viewed by the larger society. This also has impact on other pieces of legislation which reference family and marriage," it said. "Notwithstanding this, MSF is working with the relevant agencies and stakeholders to enhance support for victims."

The issue of allowing maintenance for incapacitated men who cannot work also received feedback, with some saying this was a "step in the right direction" while others had their reservations, the press release said.

Several felt that maintenance should be extended to men in the same manner as for women, given the progress of women in today's society, while others felt that man are the traditional breadwinners of the family and the society is not ready to accept that women have the same responsibilty as men to support their spouse or ex-spouse, it added.

MSF said besides the public, groups such as the Families for Life Council, the Singapore Council of Women's Organisations (SCWO), the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) and the Law Society of Singapore also shared their views.

Before the public consultation, the ministry had consulted key stakeholders and considered the recommendations of the Family Justice Committee, which focused on assisting divorcing and divorced families. It also held dialogue sessions and obtained inputs on emerging family issues from women's groups, VWOs and public sector agencies that work on support for families and protecting women and girls, according to the press release.

Source: CNA/kk