'Upskirt video' cases turning up more frequently

Posed photo of a man holding a supermarket basket with a mobile phone in it. A recent spate of cases involving men who filmed "upskirt videos" of women in public places prompted a judge to ask if this crime is on the rise. -- ST FILE PHOTO: WANG
Posed photo of a man holding a supermarket basket with a mobile phone in it. A recent spate of cases involving men who filmed "upskirt videos" of women in public places prompted a judge to ask if this crime is on the rise. -- ST FILE PHOTO: WANG HUI FEN

Proliferation of secret cameras, Internet pornographic videos behind rise: Experts

A recent spate of cases involving men who filmed "upskirt videos" of women in public places prompted a judge to ask if this crime is on the rise.

The offence of using a variety of high-tech gadgets and cameras to shoot videos up unsuspecting women's skirts is lumped under the law as "insulting a woman's modesty".

No detailed breakdown is available, but reports of insulting a woman's modesty rose last year to 621, up from 598 in 2011 and 579 in 2010.

On Aug 14, District Judge Christopher Goh was hearing the case against Be Keng Hoon, 36, who was charged with taking 264 videos of different women's underwear and thighs.

On the same day, former logistics officer Lim Kwang Yeow, 54, pleaded guilty to six charges of using his mobile phone to record upskirt videos in 2011. Another 237 similar charges were taken into consideration.

Such cases first began making the news as far back as 2004, though they are turning up in court more frequently now.

Experts said a proliferation of affordable secret cameras has made it easier for perverts to go in search of their prey.

Aside from mobile phones, ever tinier and inconspicuous devices are now easily available.

Surveillance equipment store owner Mervyn Tan, 27, said spy cameras now come embedded in everything from watches to pens and cigarette lighters.

Perverts using these devices may think they can get away because their hidden cameras are hard to spot.

On Aug 6, former Land Transport Authority officer Kew Guozhi, 31, was jailed 15 months for taking at least 423 upskirt video recordings using a camera pen clipped to his shoe.

Consultant psychiatrist Ken Ung of Adam Road Medical Centre said men who engage in these secret crimes get sexual gratification from them.

Factors that predispose some to such deviant acts may include growing up in a very repressive family environment.

"The thrill in such cases is having taken the video discreetly and the element of risk and stealth involved," said Dr Ung.

He said he sees up to five patients a year addicted to such behaviour.

"Most of the patients I've treated are quite intelligent, and can't say they didn't know they had a problem," he said. "But it's an addiction; just like gambling, they don't want to stop."

The proliferation of pornographic Internet sites offering similar videos has also exposed more men to using secret cameras for these crimes, he said.

Psychologist Daniel Koh pointed to the need for women to be more aware of perverts with tiny cameras in public places.

He said upskirt video victims are often distracted, for instance by being on their smartphones, and do not realise they are being filmed.

The police said there are no hot spots, and in the cases so far, victims have been targeted in their homes and workplaces too, by family members, friends, neighbours and colleagues.

maryamm@sph.com.sg