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The Applicant Series #20: Underage Sexual Activities

The Applicant Series showcases works done by hopeful writers who have applied with inkmypapers over the years. The results and comments will be provided first, followed by the actual essay/report written by the applicant

Applicant’s Results: Pass

Title: Write a persuasive argumentative essay defending your position in order to argue for your particular stance on this issue.

Comments: If this was to be graded, it would have B- grade. This is an 800-word piece written for SUSS’s COR160 Essential Academic Writing Skills module. While the applicant did a good job in listing important points, there are some grammatical errors and logical mishaps that make the piece less than an A grade piece.

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Any individual under the age of sixteen is defined as a minor. According to Singapore’s Penal Code (1985) “minors” do not have the right to “consent” to or participate in sexual activities. Any and all activities involving sex with a minor are illegal. Despite identifying sexual acts with minors as criminal offences, the laws regarding punishment of such misconducts are in dire need of amendment. Singapore’s underage sex laws are under public scrutiny with increasing demands for a review of existing laws to make them more stringent. To emphasise upon the need for more rigorous rules, it is crucial to highlight the various underpinning factors. The purpose of this essay is to assess the multiple strengths and weaknesses of the existing laws to suggest practical changes to the current legislation.

Singapore boasts of being one of the countries with the lowest crime rate in the world. However, Cases of underage sex are on a consistent rise which indicates that the regulations in question are not stringent enough to deter future criminals from repeating the offence. In fact, According to The Association Of Women For Action And Research AWARE (Loh,2016), the number of sexual assault cases increased from 234 in 2014 to 267 in 2015.Existing laws are found to be extremely lenient as per public opinion. In instances such as Joshua Robinson’s (Strait Times Online, 2017) whereby he was sentenced to 4 years in prison for underage sexual activities with three minors, over 27,000 individuals have petitioned against the judgment. In view of the felonies according to Singapore Times (2017) the offender could have been sentenced to 20 years in prison with over 20000 dollars in fine. While proponents of the existing law claim that the sentence is by precedent case law, they also claim that the verdict is harsher in comparison to similar cases where punishment was less than a year. Advocates of existing ruling claim that the sentence is not as stringent because the offender had not engaged in “statutory rape”. As per Singaporean law if an individual participates in non-consensual sex or sex with a person under 14 years of age the act is termed as ‘statutory rape ‘ which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and caning. Example of this law’s enforcement would be the case of Benjamin Leing (The Strait Times Online Forum, 2016), who was sentenced to nearly 20 years in jail and 24 cane lashes. Since Robinson was not guilty of rape, he was not subject to the harsh ruling.

Given the above scenario, legislative reform is severely needed. The Singaporean Law is overlapping in several aspects regarding regulations concerning underage sex. Two highly questionable elements are that of age and consent. Whereas, the Singapore penal code (1985) itself bars minors of the right to consent. It allows room for individuals above the age of 14 to engage in consensual sex. Furthermore, concerning the concept of consent, there is no constitutionally agreed upon definition of consent. In fact, there are several factors which negate consent including a relation of power/trust or threat and coercion with the victim. In case of sex with underage individuals, the offenders are found mostly to be family/trusted members or individuals encountered through social media who are subject to few or all of the factors above. In fact, it is the growing use of social media which warrants a need for these laws to be reviewed. According to Dr.Yeo, consultant psychiatrist at Mount Elizabeth Medical Center (Loh, 2016). minors are overexposed to strangers via social media who exploit their vulnerability. For instance, in the case mentioned above the offender met the victims through an online dating site. Hence, it is imperative that existing laws be made stricter since the criminals can access the victims with greater ease.

Another questionable aspect of the law is its treatment of cases whereby both individuals are under the age of 16 and engage in ‘consensual sex’; these are also referred to as “type 4″cases.According to Professor Woon (Speaking of Children; The Singapore Children’s Society collected lectures) adopting punitive measures in such cases does more harm than good. Not only does it tarnish the minors reputation and confidence it also exposes him/her to the criminal environment. At the same time legalising the act does not do any good either. According to Woon, (Singapore Children’s’ Society Collected Lectures, 2016) it is imperative that the laws are revisited and amended In light of changing circumstances. In this particular context, the rules need to be relaxed, and other damage controls and preventive measures such as teen counseling and parental guidance need to be undertaken to reduce the incidence of underage sex.

The above arguments demonstrate that Singapore’s Legislation regarding sex with minors is massively flawed. It is built upon befuddled concepts of consent and age, due to which dangerous offenders are getting away with lenient sentences. Furthermore, the law suffers from a severe imbalance concerning its ruling on consensual sex whereby both participants are minors. Therefore, it is crucial that imperatives of this rule are revisited and revised given changing social and cultural phenomenon. Not only will this impart justice but it will reduce the incidence of such crimes in the future.


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