Sexual Offences, Voyeurism

by | Apr 22, 2020 | Criminal Process, Insulting the Modesty, SEX CRIMES

Criminal Law Reform Bill 2019

The Criminal Law Reform Bill of 2019 was passed on 6 May 2019 and has since taken effect on 1 January 2020. Section 509 of the Penal Code, which previously addressed the wide range of offences relating to the insult of modesty of a woman, was repealed and new laws to better deal with these offences were enacted under Sections 377BA and 377BB of the Penal Code.

Given the recent spate of related crimes, the bill has specifically addressed the offence of Voyeurism, the act of observing or recording someone doing a private act without the person’s consent. It also refers to the severe infringement of a person’s privacy in cases where the offender took “up skirt” or “down blouse” photos. This range of offences were previously under Section 509 of the Penal Code and punishable with an imprisonment term of up to one year or with fine or with both. In his speech during the second reading of the said bill, Mr K Shanmugam, Singapore’s Minister for Law, stated his view that the current laws, as at 6 May 2019,“[did] not adequately address the range of offences involving voyeuristic recordings”.

At present, the maximum imprisonment terms for the observance, possession and making of such voyeuristic recordings (offences under Section 377BB of the Penal Code) has been increased from one to two years. Offenders can also be fined, or caned, or punished with any combination of such punishments. Additionally, where the offence is committed against a person who is below 14 years of age, the offender can be punished with an imprisonment term of up to 2 years and fined or caned.

The Law

Under Section 377BA of the Penal Code (Cap. 224), whoever, intending to insult the modesty of any person, utters any word, makes any sound or gesture, or exhibits any object, intending that such word or sound will be heard, or that such gesture or object will be seen by such person, or intrudes upon the privacy of such person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.

Under Section 377BB of the Penal Code, any person who:

  • intentionally observes another person doing a private act without the said person’s consent;
  • operates equipment with the intention of enabling himself or another person to observe a third person (A) doing a private act without A’s consent;
  • intentionally or knowingly records another person doing a private act without the said person’s consent;
  • operates equipment without another person’s (A) consent with the intention of enabling himself or another person to observe A’s genitals, breasts if Ais female, or buttocks (whether exposed or covered) in circumstances where the aforesaid body parts or underwear would not otherwise be visible;
  • intentionally or knowingly records without another person’s (A) consent an image of A’s genitals, breasts if Ais female, or buttocks (whether exposed or covered), in circumstances where the aforesaid body parts or underwear would not otherwise be visible; and
  • Any person (A) who installs equipment, or constructs or adapts a structure or part of a structure, with the intention of enabling Aor another person to commit any of the offences stated above

shall be guilty of an offence.

Further, in any proceedings for an offence under this section, where a person (A) has made a recording of another person (B) doing a private act or of B’s genitals, breasts if B is female, or buttocks (whether exposed or covered), in circumstances where the genitals, breasts or buttocks would not otherwise be visible, it is presumed until the contrary is proved that B did not consent to A making the recording.

We are determined to fight for a fair outcome for your criminal defence case. For more information, please contact our criminal lawyer Ray Louis at 9090 8288.