SINGAPORE: Minister for Law and Home Affairs K Shanmugam has described the six-month jail sentence meted out to convicted rapist Brock Turner in the United States as one that “borders on the absurd.”
In a Facebook post on Thursday (Jun 23), Mr Shanmugam said cases like this can “diminish confidence in the system as a whole".
Turner, 20, a former Stanford University student and swimmer, was recently sentenced to six months in a US county jail and three years of probation for sexually assaulting an intoxicated woman while she was unconscious. The sentence has been roundly criticised as being too lenient, along with the judge's reasoning that a prison sentence would have "severe impact" on Turner. Prosecutors had demanded a six-year prison term.
Mr Shanmugam said he read the young woman’s account of what she had to go through in court, and how she was subjected to a highly offensive line of questions. “It suggested a complete lack of remorse" on Turner's part, he stated.
He also said the statement by Turner’s father describing the rape as “20 minutes of action” as “something else altogether”.
“Any effective criminal justice system must achieve three things,” Mr Shanmugam wrote. “It must not make it difficult for women to report the crimes, it must not put women through unnecessary ordeal during investigations and interrogation in court and should be sensitive to the state of the victim.”
“And when guilt is proven, the punishment for such serious crimes must be commensurate with the gravity of the crime,” he added.
Mr Shanmugam also wrote that it is necessary to take a strict approach to these sorts of offences in Singapore. “And we need to work at making it easier for people to report and undergo examination when they have been victims of sexual violence."