Cash incentive for former sex offenders doesn't address problem

I was stunned to read about the initiative where former sex offenders are offered a cash incentive to stay crime-free, as it does not address the cause of the crime (Victims offer cash incentive for former sex offenders to stay crime-free; June 24). To add insult to injury, the scheme is funded by the victims and their families.

While I wholeheartedly agree that preventing former sex offenders from re-offending as well as protecting potential victims are important objectives, I am unconvinced that this is the best way forward.

First, giving a $1,000 cash incentive to ex-offenders seems to be entirely unrelated to preventing them from relapsing. Sex offenders do not molest or rape their victims due to financial need, so how would a cash incentive convince them to stay on the straight and narrow?

Rather, our efforts should be focused on addressing the reason behind the crime. Are there contributory socio-cultural factors, such as access to pornography or illicit drug use? Emotional factors like attachment issues may also play a part.

Instead of offering an annual cash incentive, our efforts and funding could be channelled towards supporting other measures, such as cognitive-behaviour therapy, psycho-social therapy and skills therapy, aimed at changing former offenders' mindsets, helping them work through their own intrapersonal issues and equipping them with the social skills to reintegrate into the community.

Second, it is inappropriate for the source of funding to come from the victims themselves. This plays into victim-blaming - making victims feel it is their fault they were attacked and therefore they should be responsible for the attacker's rehabilitation.

While the intention of this scheme is laudable, the monetary incentive is highly questionable.

The organisers should be cognisant of the message they are sending to the attackers.

Throwing money at former sex offenders will not teach them to be respectful of other people's bodies.

Natassha Goh (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 30, 2018, with the headline 'Cash incentive for former sex offenders doesn't address problem'. Print Edition | Subscribe