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Singapore

Rapists above 50 years old should not be spared caning, says President Halimah Yacob

SINGAPORE: President Halimah Yacob on Monday (Dec 19) suggested that rapists aged 50 or older should not be spared caning, in a Facebook post expressing her dismay at recent cases of children being raped in their own homes.

Under Singapore's Penal Code, a convicted rapist can be jailed up to 20 years and fined or caned.

Those 50 years old and above cannot be sentenced to caning, but can be imprisoned longer in lieu of corporal punishment.

In September last year, Members of Parliament suggested that the age limit for caning be raised, with Mr Murali Pillai (PAP-Bukit Batok) saying: “I don’t see why Parliament should presume in favour of a repeat sex offender that he is not fit to be caned when he is clearly fit enough to commit such heinous acts."

Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said “there was no reason" to increase the age limit for caning, noting the "significantly lower" number of men over age 50 and arrested for serious offences that attract caning.

On Monday, Madam Halimah brought up the idea again, writing in a Facebook post: "Rapists should not be spared the cane just because they are fifty years old. It’s ironic that they could escape from the pain caused by caning despite the lifetime of severe trauma and irreparable damage that they cruelly inflicted on their victims which will last a lifetime.

"In some cases, the rapes were committed earlier but reported only after the perpetrator reached fifty years old. It’s timely that we review this law," she added.

"It’s our duty to protect our young and we must not fail them."

Last week, CNA reported a case of a 54-year-old man who was sentenced to jail for molesting his daughter repeatedly from when she was 10 years old.

In November, a man admitted to trying to rape his four-year-old daughter twice, while another father went on trial for allegedly grooming his daughter over eight years before raping her when she was 12.

"I find the recent spate of cases involving rapes of children in their own homes by their male relatives highly disturbing and sickening," Madam Halimah said.

"We need to better protect our children from such sexual predators."

She said severe punishments for convicted offenders were important but not sufficient.

"We need to look at other ways to help our children and stop them from falling prey to such rapists," the president wrote.

"I worry that there could be many more unreported cases. I can’t even begin to imagine how much pain and damage these young victims had to suffer."

Madam Halimah said the reported cases follow a certain pattern: The victims had been groomed by sex predators who were either their fathers, stepfathers or other male relatives; and from a very young age so that they thought the "sickening" acts committed against them - for years in some cases - were normal.

Quite a number of victims only discover that such acts are wrong when they attend sex education classes much later in school, she noted.

"The sex predators had preyed on their innocence to persuade the victims that the perversion was alright," she said.

Even when they knew it was not right, some victims were reluctant to complain for fear of breaking up the family or losing the main breadwinner, while others were threatened and intimidated into silence, Madam Halimah added.

"Imagine the terror and vulnerability of a child stuck in a home that’s supposed to be a sanctuary but became a living hell instead."

The president said she hopes organisations in Singapore that deal with domestic violence, such as PAVE, work together with Government agencies to look at ways to better protect children from sexual abuses in the home.

Source: CNA/hm(jo)

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