An individual’s contribution to society should not be taken into account when they commit a crime.
For instance, if I go around Singapore eating stray animals for breakfast, my donations to the SPCA should not matter if I were charged in court.
But for some reason, one’s contributions or potential to contribute to society always seem to crop up whenever an individual is accused of a sexual offence.
Man Who Was Jailed For Molestation Had Donated To AWARE After Offence
A man who was caught molesting a woman on the train made donations to women’s rights group AWARE Singapore after the offence, according to CNA.
54-year-old Shen Ruifu, holder of a PhD from the National University of Singapore (NUS), was jailed 18 days for his offence.
The incident took place on a train journey between the Ang Mo Kio and Bishan MRT stations on 12 Dec, 2018.
The victim boarded the train at Ang Mo Kio at about 7.40am on that day. She stood near the door and used her phone to pass time on her journey.
At the time, Shen was already in the train carriage. He stood on the victim’s right, and faced a different direction.
Five minutes later, the victim felt someone scratching her inner thigh.
When she looked down, she saw Shen’s hand touching her inner thigh over her skirt with a scratching motion.
She immediately grabbed his hand and shouted for help.
To help the victim, a male commuter followed the both of them as they alighted the station.
The accused was then reported to an SMRT employee, and was later arrested.
The 54-year-old pleaded guilty to one charge of using criminal force on the 39-year-old woman to outrage her modesty on a train.
Judge was Mindful of Accused’s Technological Contributions & Donations to AWARE
In court, District Judge Marvin Bay said he was “mindful of Shen’s contributions to geo-technological sciences and the construction industry in this country”.
What this had to do with his offence, though, we don’t know.
Judge Bay also noted the donations Shen made to AWARE after the offence, as well as his clean record and plea of guilt.
Still, the judge said it was “essential that all commuters should feel safe and protected from unwanted groping, touches, scratches or other acts of molestation while using our public transport system”, and thus such acts cannot go unpunished.
AWARE: Donation is Not a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ Card
Speaking to CNA, AWARE said it’s not uncommon for survivors of sexual violence to request that perpetrators donate to AWARE as a gesture of remorse.
These donations help with the organisation’s work in supporting survivors of sexual assault in Singapore.
But AWARE made it clear that these donations should not allow one to get a lighter sentence.
“A donation to AWARE should not be viewed as a ‘get out of jail free’ card (or in this case, a ‘reduction of jail term’ card),” said AWARE.
“Shen’s donation has been used as a mitigating factor in his sentencing, but token payments of this nature shouldn’t be permitted to be suggestive of remorse unless specifically requested by the survivor,” it said.
“Now that we understand the circumstances surrounding Shen’s donation, we are happy to return the amount to him if he wishes,” it said.
The implication here seems to be that Shen donated to AWARE hoping to get a lighter sentence, and not as a gesture of contrition.
AWARE added that it was “disappointed” to hear that Judge Bay was mindful of Shen’s contributions to geo-technological sciences and the construction industry during the sentencing.
“Shen’s professional achievements are not relevant and should not be considered in cases where harm has been caused to another person.”
I can’t recall too many murderers whose professional achievements were “noted” in court. Why should sexual offenders be any different?