New Laws That Target Voyeurs, Upskirters, Revenge Porn & Others to Come into Effect from 1 Jan 2020

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Given the many cases of sex-related crimes that has happened this year, it is good news to all of us that there will be harsher punishments coming into full force next year.

According to a joint press release by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and Ministry of Law (MinLaw), the amendments made through the Criminal Law Reform Act (CLRA) will take effect from 1 January 2020.

So, what are the amendments?

New Specialised Offences In The Penal Code

In his speech on 6 May 2019, K. Shanmugam, Minister for Law and Minister for Home Affairs, talked about how technology had given rise to offences such as “voyeurism, cyber-flashing, and the distribution of intimate images”.

Nasi lemak, anyone?

He stated that the purpose of creating specific offences in the Penal Code is to provide proper framing for such offences and adequate punishments.

Voyeurs, Upskirters, Revenge Pornographers

As a result, the introduction of new specialised offences will criminalise acts of voyeurism and the distribution of intimate images without consent.

This includes:

  • Making, distribution, possession of, and access to voyeuristic recordings or intimate images
  • Distribution of or threat to distribute intimate images or recordings

These crimes will carry a punishment of imprisonment of up to two years, a fine, caning or any combination of these.

By having specialised offences, it would hopefully see the deterrence of such acts due to higher penalties. Furthermore, this would create a framework to address the market for such voyeuristic recordings.

Flashing And Sending Dick Pics

Sexual exposure will also become a new offence. This entails the non-consensual exposure of genitals in both physical and virtual spaces.

This means that you can now be punished with imprisonment of up to one year, a fine, or both for sending a dick pic. Not sure why you’ll do that, but anyways, just keep your banana in your pants, please.

Exploiting Minors

In addition, minors who are above the age of consent (16) but below 18 years of age will be better protected from 1 January.

The new offences will be criminalising exploitative sexual penetration and/or grooming of a minor between the ages of 16 and 18.

Furthermore, minors below the age of 16 will also be further protected by changes to the penal code which criminalise:

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  • sexual communication with a minor below the age of 16
  • engaging in sexual activity in front of a minor below the age of 16
  • causing a minor below the age of 16 to look at a sexual image

These also apply in situations where the minor is between the ages 16 and 18; in an exploitative relationship with the offender.

Child-abuse Material

Any acts involving child-abuse material was criminalised in the CLRA. From 1 January, the punishments for producing material, or using/involving a child in the production of material will be sentenced to imprisonment of up to 10 years, a fine, caning, or a combination of punishments.

On the other hand, the distribution/selling of material, advertising/seeking of material, and the possession/gaining access to the material will be sentenced to an imprisonment of seven, five and five years respectively; a fine, caning or a combination of punishments.

Intimate And Close Relationships

Offenders who commit a crime against someone whom they are in an intimate or close relationship with will also be liable for double the punishment. This includes offences affecting the human body such as rape, hurt, and wrongful confinement.

Moreover, non-consensual sex within marriage will be treated as a crime from 1 January onwards. In their press release, MHA and MinLaw stated that the change would see that “all women are protected from sexual abuse”, while also affirming that all sexual relations “should be based on mutual consent”.

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Attempted Suicide

On the other hand of harsher punishments, attempted suicide will be decriminalised. However, aiding an attempted suicide would still remain illegal.

Due to the changes to other acts, the Police Force Act and Mental Health (Care and Treatment Act) will see police officers empowered to intervene in cases of attempted suicide, to prevent injury or loss of life.


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Hopefully, this would help to reduce the stigma and help distressed individuals deal with their emotional state better.