222 apply for protection against harassment

Most people who lodged complaints under the Protection from Harassment Act say they suffered harassment, alarm or distress, with a number citing fear, provocation of violence or even unlawful stalking.

From November 2014 - when the Act was enacted - to July this year, there have been 222 applications for protection orders. Of these, 76 were granted and 83 withdrawn at the pretrial stage. This could be due to lack of evidence or both parties reaching a settlement. No details were given for the rest of the applications.

Of nine non-publication orders filed - for someone to stop publishing an offending statement - three were withdrawn and two granted.

A State Courts spokesman said counselling and mediation are often used in cases and applications may be withdrawn, sometimes with a settlement agreement. In other cases, both parties may agree on the terms of a protection order.

In the same period, 1,233 Magistrate's Complaints, which involve criminal cases, were filed under the Act.

Ms Jolene Tan, head of advocacy and research at the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware), said: "Many people whom we deal with have a better understanding of harassment because of the Act." They are mainly from Aware's Sexual Assault Care Centre.

But Ms Tan said there is little take-up for Protection Orders as the paperwork can be "very complex" and costly, starting from around $125.

For a Magistrate's Complaint, the paperwork is less daunting, she added.

Seow Bei Yi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 24, 2016, with the headline '222 apply for protection against harassment'. Print Edition | Subscribe