SINGAPORE - The Singapore Police Force has come out to defend a series of crime prevention posters warning against outrage of modesty after the posters were called out for being insensitive to molest victims.
The posters, which are displayed across the public transport network, feature the hand of a man seemingly about to molest a woman. On his wrist is a tag with the words "2 years' imprisonment: It is not worth it".
The Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) called out these posters in a Facebook post on Thursday (Nov 14), criticising them for focusing only on the punishment but not the harm suffered by the victim.
"Why are we putting a price on sexual violence at all, like it's a commodity to purchase and consume?" said the post.
In a statement released on Saturday night (Nov 16), a police spokesman said that Aware may have misunderstood the purpose of the posters.
"The posters are designed to warn would-be offenders who are unable to exercise self discipline or control themselves," the spokesman said, adding that the visuals were designed to influence their behaviour, by telling them what punishment they will face.
The posters were produced in collaboration with the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) and Singapore Polytechnic's Media, Arts and Design School. Warnings for other crimes such as theft and dishonest misappropriation of property are also similarly depicted in other posters in the series.
Chairman of the NCPC Gerald Singham said that the council was mindful of the hurt that victims of crime, especially sexual crime, suffer from.
“It was never our intention to downplay this,” he said.
“However, different messages are carried via different platforms and in this instance, we feel that crime prevention messages would be more impactful if it highlighted the personal costs to the perpetrator. In crime prevention, we seek pragmatic, effective solutions to keep our community safe.”
The police spokesman said the police fully acknowledge that outrage of modesty victims suffer from trauma and other consequences, and that the visuals are meant to drive home the point that an outrage of modesty has serious penalties.
"Our crime prevention messages are carefully curated, based on our understanding of the profile of offenders. It is unfortunate that Aware has chosen to make these public judgements against the police without any attempt to contact us to understand our perspective" the spokesman added.