Although married persons have conjugal rights over each other, such rights should be exercised within reasonable behaviour. An act of molestation is considered an outrage of modesty. There is no marital immunity and outrage of modesty is currently criminalised under section 354 of the Penal Code, which reads as:
“Whoever assaults or uses criminal force to any person, intending to outrage or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby outrage the modesty of that person…”
According to the provision, the “use of criminal force” is a requirement to find a person guilty of this crime. Therefore, the act of staring at someone inappropriately is not considered as an outrage of modesty.
In determining the severity of the offence, the courts may take into consideration the following factors:
- The degree of sexual exploitation – this includes considerations of the part of the victim’s body that was touched by the accused, how the accused touched the victim, and the duration of the outrage of modesty.
- The circumstances of the offence – these include considerations of “the presence of premeditation, the use of force or violence, the abuse of a position of trust, the use of deception, the presence of other aggravating acts accompanying the outrage of modesty, and the exploitation of a vulnerable victim”.
- The harm caused to the victim – whether the victim faced any physical harm, emotional or psychological trauma.
If convicted, such an offence can carry a penalty of up to two year’s jail, or a fine or caning, or any combination of such punishments.
For situations involving violent behaviour or the threat of violent behaviour, another course of action will be to apply for a Protection Order at the Family Court.
If you are a victim of molestation or if you know of someone who is suffering in silence, seek help quickly in order to protect yourself and your loved ones. Feel free to contact our family lawyers should you require any assistance or legal advice.