Proposed revisions of the Penal Code reveal how much has changed since the last comprehensive review was completed in 2007. An obvious area of unwanted change lies in the criminal use of technology that, for example, has turned ordinary phone cameras into nefarious instruments of social pathology in the form of upskirt videos. Also, a child as young as six was made to watch an obscene film. There have been other egregious transgressions that have shocked society. Vulnerable people have fallen fatal victim to repeated abuse. A toddler died after weeks of abuse by his mother and her boyfriend, and a waitress died after months of torture by her flatmates. In each case, Singaporeans responded with defiant disbelief that such crimes could occur here. Even when exemplary punishment is warranted or called for, the law has been tied by its own hands.
Existing penal provisions do not allow for punishment beyond certain measures, and clearly do not fully reflect the heinous nature of some of the crimes. The fate of the victims cannot be changed. However, the law could. And it will be, if the recommendations of a committee are accepted by the Government and passed by Parliament. Women, minors and other vulnerable people would get more protection against violent and sexual crimes. Thus, marital immunity for rape would be removed. Minors would be protected further from sexual predators. On other fronts, attempted suicide would be decriminalised. There would be enhanced punishment for crimes committed against children, domestic maids and adults with disabilities.