SINGAPORE: Women’s rights group AWARE said on Sunday (Nov 17) that the crime prevention posters on outrage of modesty do not say that the act is wrong, but only that it is “expensive”.
This comes after police issued a statement on Saturday saying that AWARE had misunderstood the purpose of their campaign.
AWARE had earlier brought attention to the posters saying that there was a desperate need for a shift in the way sexual violence is talked about and framed.
In a post on Facebook, AWARE said that it was namely concerned about the visual motif of the price tag on the molester’s hand, as well as the tagline, which reads: “2 years' imprisonment. It is not worth it.”
“Putting a price on molest likens the victim to an object on a store shelf that can be purchased if one is willing to pay the price,” said AWARE.
“The poster does not say that this act is wrong, only that it is expensive. This analogy has the effect of erasing the experience of the victim and any viewer’s empathy for the victim.
"AWARE takes a survivor-centric approach that underscores each individual's dignity and rights. And we would like to see all ads, public-service or otherwise, informed by that belief."
It added: “Survivors have, in fact, written to us to share their discomfort with the posters’ messaging."
The group acknowledged that while the posters are part of a series that also target theft of property or rioting, the price tag approach may not work when applied to sexual assault crimes.
“These posters, while targeted at perpetrators, will be read by survivors as well, who may be put off by the messaging,” it said.
“As the posters had been posted in public, at MRT stations where they had already seen by many commuters, we thought it was appropriate to post our comments in public. These ideas affect all of society, so there is value in opening this discourse to the public.”
On Thursday, AWARE had posted photos of the posters and questioned why there had to be a “price” on sexual violence.
In response, the police said that the visuals were meant to target potential perpetrators and "specifically highlight the punishments for committing the criminal acts, in order to send a strong deterrent message".
"AWARE has criticised the posters on the basis that they focus on the punishment and do not refer to the harm suffered by the victim. AWARE does not seem to have understood the purpose of the posters," said police.