Singapore — Nominated MP Yip Pin Xiu said in Parliament on Thursday (Feb 27) that a code or guideline that can be used throughout Singapore should be developed to address sexual violence in the country’s campuses.
This would standardise responses to sexual misconduct and violence throughout educational institutions in the country, instead of each institution having to come up with its own guidelines.
According to the Nominated MP: “Whether a student gets their case investigated, how it will be investigated, and what the outcomes may be, and what support they receive as victims would differ depending on where they go to school. This should not be the case. Violence is violence, and should be dealt with the same way regardless of institution.”
Ms Yip made this call in the wake of the case of NUS undergraduate Monica Baey last year, who made headlines after taking to the social media platform Instagram to air her dissatisfaction with how the university handled the case of the person who had filmed her in the shower.
Nicholas Lim received a one-semester suspension, was only asked to write a letter of apology to Ms Baey and attend counselling, and was denied entry from residences and halls at NUS.
Other than that, there were no charges made or other penalties, although the police gave him a conditional warning.
Ms Baey’s social media posts were widely discussed online and offline, and universities vowed to reconsider their policies in tackling sexual misconduct.
A nationwide code would send the message that there would be zero tolerance of sexual harassment across the country’s campuses, as well as make sure that victims receive sufficient counselling and support. Furthermore, national guidelines would standardise the investigation and handling of complaints.
Ms Yip mentioned that, between 2015 and 2017, 56 cases of sexual misconduct involving students were reported to the authorities, and wondered how many more had gone unreported.
She also cited the growing number of incidents of sexual misconduct using technology, and asked if mechanisms could be put in place so that intimate content that had been shared without someone’s consent could be removed even while the matter was still under investigation. This was already being done in Australia.
The Nominated MP added: “Even with the successful conviction of the perpetrator, the traumatic effects of having one’s intimate images and recordings still circulating in the public domain will still be felt by survivors. I hope that survivors of such offences can be better protected.”
The Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) shared statistics concerning sexual violence related to the use of technology on Nov 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, saying that the number has more than doubled in the last three years.
In 2016, there were 46 acts of sexual misconduct aided by technology reported to Aware. By 2018, the number had increased to 124. Over half of these cases revolved around pictures or videos, such as up-skirting or circulating images of naked women.
“These behaviours range from unwanted and explicit sexual messages and calls (including attempts to coerce sex or a relationship) to a specific category of image-based sexual abuse,” it said. According to AWARE head Anisha Joseph: “New factors — such as the widespread availability of recording technology, and our 24/7 channels of communication — make these actions all the more pervasive and damaging today.” /TISG