#MeToo trends in Singapore as police report 20% jump in molestation cases so far in 2017

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The #MeToo hashtag that has been trending all over the world this month, following news of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, has been picking up in Singapore as local women come forward to speak up about sexual harrassment they’ve faced here.

The hashtag has been making waves locally, against the backdrop of a significant jump in molestation cases from January to September 2017, compared to last year.

The police revealed in a press release yesterday that 1,168 cases were reported between January and September – constituting an increase of 194 cases, or 19.9 per cent – compared to the same period in 2016:

“Between January and September 2017, there were 1,168 reported cases of Outrage of Modesty, an increase of 194 cases (or 19.9%) compared to the same period last year. 152 of these cases were reported on public transport, while 76 of these cases were reported at public entertainment outlets, an increase of 50 cases (or 49.0%) and 15 cases (or 24.6%) respectively, compared to the same period last year.”

Today, eight men between the ages of 25 and 57 were charged for separate cases of outrage of modesty committed between January and July.

They are: Saha Sweet Kuamar, 25; Ang Boon Chye, 29; Dadyala Balwinder Singh, 30; Muhammad Ruzaini Johari, 31; Jagjit Singh, 32; Wong Teck Guan, 35; Affendi Mohamed Noor, 53; and Lee Yoke Weng, 57.

Their cases have been adjourned to next month. If found guilty of outrage of modesty, they may be jailed up to two years, and/or fined, and/or caned.

Meanwhile, the #MeToo hashtag has been a stark reminder of how sexual harassment affects women:

The Singapore Police Force has asserted that it is working on instating additional security measures to prevent Outrage of Modesty cases:

“To prevent Outrage of Modesty cases from happening in public entertainment outlets, the Police have worked with operators on additional security measures such as the installation of closed-circuit televisions. In addition, the operators are required to prevent overcrowding and ensure sufficient lighting within their premises.
“Patrols are conducted in public transport areas by officers from the Public Transport Security Command to project Police presence and deter Outrage of Modesty cases. In addition, the Police also actively disseminate crime prevention advice to commuters and these are done through posters, videos and crime prevention roadshows in areas such as trains, train stations and bus interchanges.”

The Force also advised members of the public to take the following precautions to prevent crime:

  • Be aware of your surroundings and stay alert to any suspicious person(s).
  • Avoid walking through dimly-lit and secluded places or taking the lift with a stranger.
  • Have someone escort you home when returning alone late at night.
  • Carry along with you a shrill alarm.

When taking public transport or visiting entertainment outlets, SPF advises members of the public to be alert and attentive to their surroundings and move away if someone comes exceptionally close. It added:

“If you are molested, seek help immediately from those around you. Take note of the prominent features and attire of the suspect as well as the direction in which he or she went. Call ‘999’ as soon as possible to increase the chances of apprehending the suspect early. If it is safe to do so, the victim or other witnesses of the crime may assist to detain the suspect while waiting for the Police to arrive.”

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