Desmond Tan calls for Raeesah Khan to provide more details over 'serious' allegation of police mishandling rape report

Raeesah clarified that she did not mean to cast aspersions on the police.

Matthias Ang | August 04, 2021, 06:36 PM

The Minister of State for Home Affairs, Desmond Tan, has called on Workers' Party MP Raeesah Khan to provide more details about a "serious" allegation regarding the police's mishandling of a rape report.

During her speech on the gender equality motion in Parliament on Aug. 3, Raeesah said that she had accompanied a 25-year-old rape survivor three years ago to make a police report.

However, the victim emerged from the police station crying as a police officer "had allegedly made comments about her dressing and the fact that she had been drinking," Raeesah added.

Raeesah calls for MHA to train more police officers in handling sexual assault and harassment cases

Raeesah then called for the Ministry of Home Affairs to provide more training to police officers in handling sexual assault and harassment cases, noting that such training and regulation had been rolled out for judges and lawyers.

She also suggested that the police could be supported by counsellors or trained mental-health professionals at police stations other than the Onesafe Centre in Police Cantonment Complex, which was established by the police for victims of sexual assault to undergo forensic and medical examination in one place, with greater privacy.

Such moves, Raeesah added, will help "build confidence" in the sensitivity and capability of law enforcement to handle these matters, thereby encouraging more victims of sexual violence to step forward.

She said, "While I acknowledge that providing more victim support and increased reporting will require more resources on the part of law enforcement, I believe that this is something we must commit to."

Tan: More details needed to investigate

In response, Tan asked Raeesah to provide more details so that the incident can be investigated.

He said, "We take this very seriously. Any form of questions raised about how the police have handled or mishandled this case should be investigated."

Raeesah replied that as the incident was three years ago, she did not wish to "re-traumatise" the person that she accompanied.

She added, "These anecdotes are not isolated. And perhaps this can start discussions on how victims or survivors are treated after they make reports and this may not be when they just make reports to the police, but it can also be how they make reports to other institutions."

Tan also noted that Raeesah had also made suggestions pertaining to the training of police officers and said that she could file parliamentary questions on the matter, to which she agreed.

Raeesah: Police part of the solution, did not mean to cast aspersions on them

Raeesah then subsequently clarified that she did not intend to cast aspersions on the police.

"The police is part of the solution, not the problem," she added and that she had raised this particular instance as it was her own experience with a rape survivor.

In addition, she has been unsuccessful in getting in touch with the victim since then.

"I believe, that given the topic at hand, consent is imperative, not least to avoid re-victimisation," Raeesah said.

Raeesah then added that she would communicate directly to MHA in cases where rape survivors believe they have been processed inappropriately by the police, while attempting to maintain a relationship of confidentiality with the victim.

Top screenshots from CNA