PAP Women's Wing and Aware express dismay over 'disproportionate' sentence

NUS Dentistry student Yin Zi Qin had been given a short detention order of 12 days and a day reporting order of five months. PHOTO: ST FILE

The People's Action Party (PAP) Women's Wing and Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) have said they are dismayed at the sentence that the National University of Singapore (NUS) student received for trying to strangle his former girlfriend.

The PAP Women's Wing has shared its concerns about the sentencing with the Minister for Home Affairs, "who has committed to look further into the matter".

"The PAP Women's Wing and PAP Women Members of Parliament strongly denounce violence against women. Like many members of the public, we are dismayed that the sentence in this case appears disproportionate to the offence," the PAP Women's Wing said in a statement yesterday.

Manpower Minister Josephine Teo, who is chairman of the Women's Wing and Second Minister for Home Affairs, carried the statement on her Facebook page and, in all capital letters, announced that the matter was "an issue of serious concern".

Dentistry student Yin Zi Qin was given a short detention order of 12 days and a day reporting order of five months, whereby offenders have to report to a centre for monitoring and counselling as well as undergo rehabilitation.

The 23-year-old was also ordered to complete 80 hours of community service over a year.

Also weighing in on the case yesterday was Aware, which said it was surprised and disconcerted over the sentence. "Such a sentence has a detrimental impact on public perceptions of violence against women: indicating to perpetrators that they can get away with a light punishment, and indicating to survivors that the often arduous process of reporting their experience will be unrewarding or even futile," it said, adding that the sentence shows an imbalance.

It said the harm experienced by the female survivor is frequently minimised, while the past record and future potential of the male perpetrator is amplified.

Two petitions have also been circulating online, with one calling for a harsher sentence for the student, and another demanding NUS expel the student. The first one has garnered more than 14,500 signatures as of yesterday and the other petition has over 16,500 signatures.

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Senior Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth Sim Ann encouraged young people who have raised concerns to join discussions that will be organised by the ministry and the National Youth Council.

She said: "It boils down to whether or not outcomes in these cases have been able to keep up with evolving norms and expectations in society... It's a very positive sign for society that our youths are so ready to be a part of this process and that they care deeply about (these) issues."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 22, 2020, with the headline PAP Women's Wing and Aware express dismay over 'disproportionate' sentence. Subscribe