Molesters 'think they can get away in crowds'

Molestation cases that take place at entertainment nightspots could have happened as perpetrators believed they would not get caught in a crowded, public environment, said Ms Anisha Joseph, manager of the Association of Women for Action and Research's Sexual Assault Care Centre.

According to police statistics released yesterday, there were 717 outrage of modesty cases in the first half of this year, up from 655 in the same period last year. In particular, cases at entertainment nightspots increased from 44 to 52 over this period, while cases on public transport remained high, at around 70 cases.

Clinical psychologist Jeanie Chu of the Resilienz Clinic said incidents may take place at such locations due to accessibility to potential victims, and perpetrators' ease of escape. Ms Anisha added that perpetrators may also be friends or acquaintances who exploit the situation when one is too intoxicated to consent at a nightspot, for example.

"It's important to encourage bystanders and friends to actively support victims, especially if they are caught unaware, or are processing the shock or fear," she said.

She added that nightspots have a responsibility to ensure their premises are safe, by training security and bar staff to step in or alert management if they see an assault.

But she noted that rising numbers may not mean an increase in such crimes. Instead, it could mean that more victims feel confident in reporting the incidents.

  • 717

  • Number of molestation cases in the first half of this year, up from 655 in the same period last year.

Molestation cases at entertainment outlets could take place due to people being in a higher state of excitement and having less "natural inhibitions" when they consume alcohol, said Singapore Management University Professor of Law Mark Findlay.

"Education against this behaviour and public shaming are more effective than higher penalties," added Prof Findlay, who was formerly with the Institute of Criminology at the University of Sydney.

"Deterrence only works if offenders genuinely recognise a real risk of being caught," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 29, 2017, with the headline 'Molesters 'think they can get away in crowds''. Subscribe