Illegal Sexual Communication With A Minor
Sexual communication, or sexting, is the transmission of sexually explicit content from one party to another. This content can be in the form of images, videos or even sexually explicit text messages.
While it is not illegal to sext in Singapore, a person who communicates with a minor for the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification may be guilty of offences under the Penal Code (Cap. 224, 2008 Rev Ed) and the Children and Young Persons Act (Cap. 38, 2001 Rev Ed) (CYPA). These laws aim to prevent predatory behaviour and protect young individuals from inappropriate advances.
Sexual exploitation under the CYPA
A person who:
- induces any child or young person to commit an obscene or indecent act;
- commits an obscene or indecent act with any child or young person; or
- procures the commission by any person of any obscene or indecent act with any child or young person,
shall be guilty of sexual exploitation of a child or young person, and liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000, or to an imprisonment term not exceeding 5 years, or to both.
In the case of a second or subsequent conviction under this section, the offender can face a fine of up to $20,000 or imprisonment of up to 7 years.
Sexual communication with minor under the Penal Code
A person of or above 18 years of age who intentionally transmits sexually explicit content to a minor below 16 years of age for the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification or causing humiliation, alarm or distress to the said minor, shall be guilty of an offence of sexual communication with a minor.
Where the offence is committed against a victim below 14 years of age, the offender shall be punished with up to 3 years’ imprisonment, or with fine, or with both.
In any other case, the offender shall be punished with up to 2 years’ imprisonment, or with fine, or with both.
Sexual communication with a minor between 16 and 18 years of age (inclusive) in the same context is an offence of exploitative sexual communication if the said minor is in a relationship with the offender that is exploitative of that minor.
The court will determine whether such a relationship is exploitative based on the circumstances of each case. It will have regard to:
- the age of the minor;
- the age difference between the accused person and the minor;
- the nature of their relationship; and
- the degree of control or influence exercised by the accused person on the minor.
It is presumed, until otherwise proven, that such a relationship is exploitative if the accused person is in a position of influence or authority over the minor.
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