Criminal Reform Bill – a law to protect the vulnerable

The Criminal Reform Bill has been reformed (pardon the pun) to keep up with the digital age and to enhance protection of minors and vulnerable victims. Almost all the new provisions will come into force early next year.

To make sure you don’t run afoul of the new laws, here are the key changes coming up.

Sexual offences

Keep that handphone away. Voyeurism offences such as taking upskirt photos, will have stiff penalties. Offenders can be jailed for up to two years and caning is also part of the sentencing options.

Revenge porn, where offenders distribute or threaten to distribute intimate recordings of the victim, will carry a maximum jail term of five years. There is also an option of a fine and caning under the new offence. Imprisonment will be made mandatory if the offence is committed against anyone aged under 14 years.

Acts such as “stealthing”, where men remove a condom before or during sex without the knowledge of their partner, will now be criminalised as well.

This will also apply to partners who deceive or misrepresent the presence of sexually transmitted diseases, which also compromises the victims’ consent.

Protection of Minors

Victims of sexual exploitation who are above the age of consent but are still minors, i.e those who are aged between 16 and 18 years, will now be protected.

New offences are also introduced to protect minors under 18 years old.

The range of offences include:

  • Sexual communication with minors
  • Showing a minor a sexual image
  • Performing sexual activity in the presence of a minor

Protection of vulnerable victims

Remember the sad case of Annie Ee who had low IQ and died after being tortured by her flatmate? This new law would protect vulnerable victims like her.

A new offence was introduced for causing or allowing the death or serious injury of children under 14, or other vulnerable victims including disabled people and domestic helpers.

Offenders must have either committed the act or failed to protect the victim. If guilty, they can be jailed up to 20 years, fined, and/or caned.

Decriminalisation of suicide

While the govt’s stand on suicide is that it is a no-no, suicide has been decriminalised. This is because the govt say that the threat of prosecution and the labelling of persons who attempt suicide as “offenders” may worsen their emotional state, and increase the stigma they face.

Abetting attempted suicide, including physician-assisted suicide, will remain an offence, with a maximum imprisonment term increasing from one to 10 years, with higher punishments if the victim is a minor or lacks mental capacity.

Marital Rape

Sex without consent in marriage will also be considered as rape under the new enhanced laws. Rape will also now include non-consensual acts involving penile penetration of the anus and mouth.

Any false reports of rape will be dealt with firmly too. The maximum punishment for providing false information to a public servant is doubled to two years’ imprisonment.

Don’t Play Play

Some of these changes has been a long time coming. Early next year cannot come soon enough.