S'porean man, 54, donates to AWARE after molesting woman on MRT train, sentenced to 18 days' jail

He had pleaded guilty to one count of outrage of modesty.

Syahindah Ishak | February 10, 2021, 06:10 PM

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A 54-year-old Singaporean man, Shen Ruifu, was sentenced to jail for 18 days for molesting a 39-year-old woman on an MRT train in 2018.

He had pleaded guilty to one count of outrage of modesty in district court.

What happened

Was in the same train as the victim

According to court documents seen by Mothership, Shen committed the offence on Dec. 12, 2018.

At about 7:40am that day, the victim, who cannot be named due to a gag order, boarded a train at Ang Mo Kio MRT Station.

The train was heading towards Marina Bay. Shen was on the same train, having boarded it when it stopped at Sembawang.

Court documents stated that the victim stood on the train near the door.

She was looking at her phone to pass the time on the journey.

Shen was standing on her right and facing a different direction.

Felt something scratching her inner thigh

At about 7:45 am, while the train was travelling from Ang Mo Kio to Bishan, the victim felt something scratching her right inner thigh.

She looked down and saw Shen's right hand touching her right inner thigh over her skirt with a scratching motion.

The victim grabbed Shen's hand and shouted for help.

When the train stopped at Bishan MRT Station, the victim alighted and told Shen to alight as well.

A male commuter also alighted from the train to accompany the victim and assist her.

The male commuter and the victim subsequently handed Shen over to an SMRT Service Ambassador.

The police was called and Shen was then arrested.

Donated to AWARE after committing the offence

According to CNA, Shen had made a donation to Singapore women's rights advocacy group AWARE after he committed the offence.

During sentencing, District Judge Marvin Bay noted the donation Shen made, as well as his clean record and guilty plea.

On Feb. 10, AWARE released a full statement via its Twitter page, saying that it is not uncommon for survivors of sexual violence to request the perpetrators to donate to AWARE.

The donations, said AWARE, would go towards its work supporting sexual assault survivors in Singapore.

Not a "get out of jail free card"

However, AWARE went on to say that a donation "should not be viewed as a get out of jail free card".

AWARE added in its statement:

"Shen’s donation has been used as a mitigating factor in his sentencing, but token payments of this nature shouldn’t be permitted to be suggestive of remorse unless specifically requested by a survivor.

Now that we understand the circumstances surrounding Shen's donation, we are happy to return the amount to him if he wishes.

We recommend that the courts do not accept donations as a mitigating factor in future sexual assault cases."

Was from NUS

In sentencing, Judge Bay also said he was mindful of Shen's contributions to geotechnological sciences and the construction industry in this country.

AWARE said that it was "disappointed" by Bay's decision.

"Professional achievements aren't relevant and shouldn't be considered where harm has been caused to another," added AWARE.

A quick Google search shows that Shen holds a PhD in geotechnical engineering.

According to CNA, Shen received his doctorate degree from the National University of Singapore (NUS).

He also previously worked with NUS and left in 2015, as reported by The Straits Times.

However, he said the offence was committed in the public transport network, and it was "essential that all commuters should feel safe and protected from unwanted groping, touches, scratches or other acts of molestation while using our public transport system".

For being guilty of outrage of modesty, Shen could have been jailed for up to two years, fined, caned, or any combination of these punishments.

Top images from One Smart website & by Jia Wei Ng via Unsplash.