A High Court Judge presiding over a rape case in Singapore set a social example by criticizing "disrespectful" comments made on the Internet about the victim. Justice Aedit Abdullah was referring to the popular Ong Soon Heng rape case, in which the bunker surveyor has been convicted of abduction and rape of an intoxicated 22-year old student with whom he was partying.
Abdullah said on Wednesday, September 13 that these comments "have a real impact on people" as they are "very, very unhelpful," adding that such actions might also discourage rape victims from coming forward and seeking help. He also said that it is "not helpful to pass comments on the accused", and that his guilt has to be proven in the court.
The anonymity of the internet makes people bold and gives them a platform to say unpleasant and prejudiced things, said Abdullah at a hearing. People find it easier to target others when they know their comments will not have any consequences.
Abdullah's quote is extremely relevant as the Ong Soon case was much hyped online, with many people blaming the victim for being intoxicated and "defenseless". This is one of many incidents where rape and molestation victims are slut-shamed on social media.
The case in question had made headlines because the victim and the rapist were friends who were intoxicated at a party. Ong Soon had offered to drop the victim home safely, but he abducted and raped her instead, while she was in an unconscious state. The prosecutors argued that her "capacity not to consent was not merely compromised, but completely absent," making it a heinous crime.
In the hearing, the victim testified that Ong had been her "good friend" and he grossly betrayed her trust. After the rape case came into the limelight, he even claimed that he was intimately involved with the victim.
Deputy public prosecutors Sellakumaran Sellamuthoo and Siti Adrianni Marhain asked for a 14 years' jail sentence for Ong, along with 12 cane strokes, whereas the defence lawyers Sunil Sudheesan and Diana Ngiam vouched for 10 years jail time and 6 cane strokes.
Ong's sentence is pending and it shall be announced at a later date.