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Outrage of Modesty

4 min read
What is the punishment?

 

Sentencing under s. 354/s. 509 of the Penal Code

s. 354 stipulates that the assault or use of criminal force to a person with the intent to outrage modesty is a criminal offence which will be liable to a jail term of up to 2 years, or a fine, or with caning, or a combination of the abovementioned punishments.
Where “a victim’s private parts or sexual organs [were] intruded” (Chandresh Patel v Public Prosecutor [1995]), the well-established benchmark is 9 months imprisonment with caning as a starting point. In the case of PP v Ho Ah Hoo Steven, at [86], it has laid out an extremely useful survey that shows any interference with a woman’s breasts and usage of moderate force would result in sentencing of a jail term from 6 to 12 months.

s. 509 stipulates that a person, with the intention to insult the modesty of any woman, utters any word or makes any sound/gesture, exhibit any object that shall be seen by the said woman, or intrudes upon her privacy, is liable to a jail term of up to 1 year, or a fine, or both.

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What is the typical sentence meted out in the sentencing criminal courts?

 

These days the benchmark sentence for upskirt videos is a jail term of two weeks.

In the case of PP v Tay Beng Guan Albert [2000] 2 SLR(R) 778, Yong Pung How CJ had expressly stated that video camcorders are freely available and in upskirt video situations, a fine would not suffice as a deterrent because an offence of such nature cannot be tolerated. Therefore, the unauthorized recording that infringes upon the modesty of a woman will result in a jail term under s. 509. This has been affirmed in recent judgments in 2011/2012.

In PP v Soo Ee Hock [2011]SGDC 26, the accused faced 12 charges under section 509 of the Penal Code, with 189 similar charges taken into consideration for the purpose of sentencing. In that case the accused had clipped a camera pen to the side of his laptop bag and then placed his laptop bag under the skirt of an unsuspecting female standing in front of him as he rode on the escalator. The accused was given 3 months imprisonment per charge with three sentences to run consecutively making it a total of 12 months imprisonment.

Burden of Proof

In the case of sexual offences, allegations are easy to make and rebuttal of such allegations are difficult. Courts have expressly warned of the danger of convicting an accused person of a sexual offence based solely on the words of the complainant unless her complaint is unusually compelling or convincing (Tang Kin Seng v PP). The standard of proof required for a criminal offence is beyond reasonable doubt and complainant’s evidence should be able to be corroborated and prove the offence was committed beyond reasonable doubt.
It is also important to note that an intentional false accusation of a person of a sexual offence may render the complainant liable to criminal defamation under s. 499 of the Penal Code.

Offence of Molest and Upskirt Videos as provided for under the Penal Code, Chapter 224

 

Assault or use of criminal force to a person with intent to outrage modesty
354.—

(1)  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, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 2 years, or with fine, or with caning, or with any combination of such punishments.
(2)  Whoever commits an offence under subsection (1) against any person under 14 years of age shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 5 years, or with fine, or with caning, or with any combination of such punishments.

Word or gesture intended to insult the modesty of a woman

509.  Whoever, intending to insult the modesty of any woman, utters any word, makes any sound or gesture, or exhibits any object, intending that such word or sound shall be heard, or that such gesture or object shall be seen by such woman, or intrudes upon the privacy of such woman, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.

Insult of Modesty

Insult of Modesty covers non-physical acts of sexual harassment. This includes, but is not limited to, taking of up-skirt photographs of women, flashing, uttering vulgarities intended to insult women.

Insult of Modesty is defined by S509 of the Penal Code: whoever, intending to insult the modesty of any woman, utters any word, makes any sound or gesture, or exhibits any object, intending that such word or sound shall be heard, or that such gesture or object shall be seen by such woman, or intrudes upon the privacy of such woman.

Sentencing Guideline: If convicted, imprisonment can extend up to 1 year, or a fine, or both

What can we do for you?

Should you have any questions or would like more information, please contact our criminal representation lawyers at 6337 0469 or email us at consult@gjclaw.com.sg

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