Sending unsolicited dick pics to someone in S’pore may soon be illegal
Must ask permission first.
Plenty of articles have been written about the phenomenon of men sending unsolicited dick pics to women on dating apps and social media platforms.
In Singapore however, it appears that this phenomenon might soon come to an end. The government intends to criminalise it as a new offence called “cyber-flashing”.
Updating the Penal Code
This was announced in a new Criminal Law Reform Bill which was read in Parliament for the first time on Feb. 11, 2019. This Bill will be introduced later this year after its second reading.
The Criminal Law Reform Bill introduces amendments to the Penal Code so that it remains relevant and up to date.
Reviewed by the Penal Code Review Committee (PCRC), the recommendations aim to enhance protection for vulnerable victims and tackle emerging crime trends, among others.
One such emerging crime trend is unsolicited sexual exposure (e,g. sending a picture of your genitals to someone without their consent).
“Cyber-flashing” is a new offence
What exactly is “cyber-flashing”? The new Bill defines it as:
“situations where images of genitalia are sent to recipients without their consent, and with the intention to cause humiliation, distress or alarm.”
Under this new legislation, a person is guilty of an offence of sexual exposure should they:
- intentionally expose their own genitals,
- intend that another person see their own genitals, and
- does so without the recipient’s consent for the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification or causing the other person humiliation, distress or alarm.
This new law will also apply to people who distribute other people’s intimate images – for example, someone who:
- intentionally distributes to someone else an image of their own or any other person’s genitals,
- intends that the recipient will see their own or any other person’s genitals; and
- does so without the recipient’s consent for the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification or of causing the recipient humiliation, distress or alarm.
A person who is found guilty of any of the above offences can be punished with an imprisonment term of up to one year, or fined, or both.
Additionally, should the recipient in question be below 14 years of age, the offender can face an imprisonment term of up to 2 years, and will also be liable to either a fine or caning.
Isn’t flashing your genitals already illegal?
While flashing someone in the flesh certainly is illegal, current laws which are used to address flashing are not adequate enough to address the ways in which such behaviour has proliferated and evolved.
For example, a flasher in public can be prosecuted via any of these three laws:
- Section 27A(1) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act (MOA) — Appearing nude in public or private place:
“Any person who appears nude – (a) in a public place; or (b) in a private place and is exposed to public view, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $2,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 months or to both.”
- Section 509 of the Penal Code — Word or gesture intended to insult the modesty of a woman
“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.”
- Section 294(a) of the Penal Code — Obscene songs
“Whoever, to the annoyance of others – (a) does any obscene act in any public place… shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 3 months, or with fine, or with both.”
However, according to the PCRC, there are gaps that these laws do not cover – for example, where sexual or malicious motives for flashing are involved, or in instances where the offender exposes his genitals in a private place.
As such, the PCRC recommended that the Penal Code be updated with a new offence specifically for “sexual exposure”, which gives greater gravity to the crime.
The government has accepted the recommendations of the PCRC.
Left photo by Monsieur Gordon via Wikimedia Commons.