20 April 2016
In an extraordinary twist to the gender equality rhetoric, a woman escapes a stiffer sentence for sexual assault because the law under which she was charged “does not cover women as offenders”. The case signals a need for Singaporeans to look more comprehensively at how to maintain social cohesion and secure the homeland.
On April 12, 2016, a 40-year old woman in Singapore, who admitted to repeated sexual assaults on an underaged girl for over two years, was acquitted of six charges against her. Although sentenced to an eight-month jail term, she could have faced up to five years and/or fined up to $10,000. Ms Zunika Ahmad pleaded guilty last year to six counts under section 376(A)(1)(b) of the Penal Code, which criminalises the sexual penetration of a minor with a foreign object other than the perpetrator’s (male) sexual organ.
The charges were dropped by the judge because of reference to the male organ, which simply could not be “construed to include a woman” without defying “common sense and anatomy”. This unusual outcome raises a question of public interest in the definition of gender and how the state and its laws interpret such cases – which could attract greater scrutiny among local and international students of gender issues.
… Tamara Nair is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Non-Traditional Security (NTS) Studies at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
NTS Centre / Online
Last updated on 21/04/2016