Voyeurism to be a separate sexual offence in Singapore with heavier punishment: Minister

Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam Reuters

Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam stated that the voyeurism will be considered an offence with heavier punishment, including caning. The introduction of this new section will be debated in parliament on Monday.

The proposed changes to the Penal Code show that this government is concerned about the increasing incidents of voyeurism and its resolve to take the issue seriously, said the minister, explaining how such behaviour is both a psychological and philosophical, setting out a very serious impact on victims.

The minister's remarks came close on the heels of the incident involving National University of Singapore (NUS) student Monica Baey, who became a victim of such Peeping Tom incident when a male student took her video, when she was taking her shower at the college hostel.

As per the current law, Monica's case was filed under the Outrage of Modesty section that includes a maximum punishment of one year's imprisonment. On Thursday, May 2, the 60-year-old minister told the Straits Times that the Criminal Law Reform Bill will introduce stricter punishment for offenders in the future.

As per the proposed changes, the non-consensual observation or recording of someone doing a private act will be considered a separate sexual offence. Even in Peeping Tom cases, the offenders will get double the jail term as well as caning.

The minister added that the Attorney-General's Chambers and the police will decide whether to take the offender through a jail sentence or take him through criminal charges, or all of these, depending on the specific case.

He also talked about another case, where an NUS student was given a 24-month conditional warning in 2015 after he was caught filming children in a shopping mall toilet. However, the charges were withdrawn after the medical team at the Institute of Mental Health said that the offender needed mental treatment.

He said, "Those sort of assessments will have to continue to be made. But where the cases are prosecuted, the range of penalties now include caning."