Did you know that outrage of modesty offences are on a rise in Singapore? What qualifies? Here are some things you should know about outrage of modesty in Singapore.

What is Outrage of Modesty?

According to section 354 of the Penal Code, anyone who assaults or uses criminal force intending to outrage the modesty of a person shall be deemed to have committed an offence of outrage of modesty.

The keyword in the definition is “criminal force”. Then the subsequent logical question is “what is criminal force?” – it means that any physical contact upon another that is not warranted or in other words “consented”.

We often hear the term “outrage of modesty” in the news and reports but another term commonly use is ‘molest’. Usually, such acts are laced with sexual intentions or desires.

Who can be a victim?

It is not specific to any particular gender, unlike rape but according to statistics, most cases involve a male offender and a female victim. However, there have been many cases of male victims.

When does a ‘touch’ constitute molest?

In the circumstance of consented sexual activities, it is unlikely that criminal force is used to outrage the modesty of another. However, if the sexual activity was consented, the offence here would likely to be a sexual assault of the varying degree. Furthermore, the offender must have known that their actions would likely outrage the victim’s modesty.

Common examples of Outrage of Modesty

It is a rampant problem in modern society that such acts are committed on public transport such as, but not limited to, on buses and trains. This is given that the vehicle of transport is usually crowded, and commuters are generally in close physical proximity of one another.

Some other commonplaces of such acts are in night clubs and bars. Usually, because most offenders are inebriated and thus have a lowered inhibition of self-control. However, it is worth to note that such reasons are not justifiable for these acts.

Some uncommon examples might also include people taking advantage of their profession to commit such acts. For instance, a masseuse and the customer or a doctor and the patient. These are only some of the range of examples, an offence can take place anytime and anywhere.

Aggravated form of Outrage of Modesty

The punishment for such offences can vary depending on the aggravating factors that the case presents. The following are a few examples:

  • Onboard a public transport – the courts have determined that if the act took place on a vehicle of public transport, it would warrant a harsher punishment as any commuter should have the right of safety when commuting.
  • If the victim is a minor – according to section 354(2) of the Penal Code if the victim is 14 years old and below, it would warrant a harsher punishment.
  • If the victim is a domestic worker – similarly to the first example, domestic workers are usually foreigners from a faraway land and away from family and friends who deserve the right to work in a safe environment. This is in accordance with section 73 of the Penal Code.
  • If the offence took place in a lift or causes or attempt to cause hurt, wrongful restraint or death or fear of instant death – such cases warrant a harsher punishment as according to section 354A of the Penal Code.

What are the punishments for Outrage of Modesty?

  • Simple outrage of modesty – an imprisonment term not exceeding 2 years, or with a fine, or with caning, or with any combination of such punishments.
  • Against a minor – an imprisonment term not exceeding 5 years, or with a fine, or with caning, or with any combination of such punishments.
  • Outrage of modesty in certain circumstance as it is in section 354A of the Penal Code – imprisonment for a term of not less than 2 years and not more than 10 years and with caning
  • If the victim is a domestic worker – twice the prescribed punishment one would receive for outrage of modesty if the victim was not a domestic worker.

Outrage of modesty is a serious offence with serious consequences. If you are facing such charges, the information here is purely informative and seek legal advice from our criminal lawyers by booking a consultation here.

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