Recently the 377A debate was ignited again. While it has divided our country, the stance by our government is clear. Let the people decide if 377A is to be thrown out or stay. In the middle of all the 377A debate, something else popped up on Lim Peh’s radar.
The proposals to repeal marital immunity for rape, as well as to decriminalise suicide. While not as divisive as 377A, it has also been debated hotly in the past. Which is why I am with the government on this. We are now ready. A Penal Code Amendment Bill is targeted to be tabled in Parliament in November. Within the 169 recommendations submitted to the Government at the end of August, were these 2 proposals.
AWARE is cheering for the 2 proposals to be passed. Not surprising, because AWARE has been championing these proposals among others for a long time. By the removal of marital rape, it paves the way for women who are abused to report on their abusers. This is because statistics have shown that 80% of abusers are actually close to their victims. Plus, it is important to note that a marriage does not mean automatic consent, which is a myth that sometimes even professionals perpetuate when interviewing victims. Thus, if the immunity for rape in a marriage is removed, a clearer, statutory definition of consent can be defined.
On the topic of suicide, it is even more clear cut. People do not kill themselves for fun. Very often, they are led to believe that it is better to be dead than alive. Which then leads them to take the drastic step of suicide. We have to recognise the mental distress that people go through before taking their own lives. Thus, it is important that these people be treated medically, rather than put into hand cuffs. In many countries, it is only criminal to abet a suicide. The act of suicide is non-criminal. Hopefully, when suicide is decriminalised, people who are driven to the brink of suicide can step out and seek help, which would result in more lives saved.
Singapore has come a long way since independence. As a former British colony, many of our laws were passed down to us. Over the years we have changed and adapted to our own needs. It is thus important that we do not rush into any decisions. Lim Peh is of the opinion that we should let nature take its course. In the meantime, lets hope that we have good news in November, when the Penal Code Amendment Bill is tabled in Parliament.
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