There is no excuse for inappropriately touching or molesting another person. Yet Indian national Ravichandran Vignesh tried to reason away the fact that he groped the breast of the woman next to him on a Singapore Airlines (SIA) flight by saying that it was his first ever flight and he did not know the laws of Singapore. He was arrested a few days later, given six months prison time, and vowed never to come back to Singapore again.
On Thursday, October 18, 23-year-old Ravichandran Vignesh pleaded guilty to one count of molestation and was sentenced to jail for six months in Singapore for touching a woman’s right breast.
Vignesh was on a flight from Bengaluru, India bound for Bali, Indonesia with a transit stop in Singapore. It was October 1 and Vignesh’s first time on an airplane.
Vignesh’s seatmate on the flight was a 31-year-old woman, who was seated next to the window.
At around 3:30AM during the flight, the woman ate her in-flight meal and covered herself with a blanket before going to sleep.
According to a report on Yahoo News, about a half hour later, the woman woke suddenly to the sensation of someone touching and pressing her right breast. She reported seeing Vignesh’s hand on her breast. Aghast and outraged, the woman shouted at Vignesh, who quickly removed his hand and feigned sleep.
Naturally, the woman immediately asked to be transferred to a different seat, and the onboard crew moved her to an empty seat at the back.
The incident may have seemed over by that time, but the woman would not keep silent about what happened to her. She was extremely diligent about reporting the molestation.
She accessed SIA’s online feedback form, where she reported the in-flight incident. She also sent an email to the Deputy Commander of the Airport Police Division detailing what had occurred. And most importantly, she filed a police report at about 11:00AM the next day with the Airport Police Division.
Thanks to the woman’s multiple reports, the police tracked Vignesh down quickly and arrested him upon his transit through Singapore from Bali on 4 October.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Amanda Han said that Vignesh had committed the molestation in a “confined space” where the victim had nowhere to go for escape. She also remarked that he had used some force in pressing her breast.
DPP Han recommended that Vignesh serve a six-month jail sentence.
Vignesh, who spoke through an interpreter during the mitigation, said that it was his first time ever on a flight, on his way to tour Bali, and that he was unaware of Singapore laws.
“I do not know the laws of Singapore. I have not done this back home in India before,” said Vignesh, who owns a pet shop in India.
Vignesh, who received a sentence of six months in jail, had begged to be allowed to return to India. For crimes of molestation, he could have been jailed for up to two years, fined or caned, or received any combination of the punishments.
The experience, or perhaps the fear or remorse, drove Vignesh to vow never to touch a woman, go to another country, and go to the city-state ever again.
“I will not touch any woman again. I will not travel overseas again. I will not come back to Singapore again,” said Ravichandran.