Current laws not enough to protect singles against violence

A very strong and indisputable argument has been put forward by a charity on allowing dating or cohabiting couples to obtain a personal protection order under the Women's Charter ("'Extend protection order to singles'"; Sunday).

The policy in Singapore quite rightly has been to promote the family unit.

But whether we like it or not, there have been in the past, and will be in the future, people living as cohabitees.

Protecting this group from violence under the Women's Charter will not at all increase the number of cohabitees and does not condone such a practice, but it does give such people protection from violent relationships.

Inclusion of protection for cohabiting and dating couples may save a person from physical injury or death.

Every life is important, and the best protection should be made available to all, irrespective of marital status.

Inclusion of protection for cohabiting and dating couples may save a person from physical injury or death. Every life is important, and the best protection should be made available to all, irrespective of marital status.

A Ministry of Social and Family Development spokesman said in Sunday's report that there are laws to protect women in these situations, such as the Penal Code and Protection from Harassment Act.

The facts raised in the report clearly show that the current laws are not adequate; tweaking them is also not likely to be the right solution and is not as effective as allowing them to obtain the relevant protection order.

It was 14 years ago that the then Ministry of Community Development and Sports said it would review the family violence policy, so that live-in partners would be able to apply for protection if necessary ("Protection order may soon extend to cohabitees"; July 19, 2001). Let's hope this group does not have to go through another 14 years of not getting adequate protection against violence.

Michael Grenville Gray

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 03, 2015, with the headline 'Current laws not enough to protect singles against violence'. Print Edition | Subscribe