Legal Age for Sex in Singapore and Common Sexual Offences
The legal age to have sex in Singapore is 16 years old. This means that it is a punishable offence to have sex (whether vaginal, oral or anal) with persons below 16 years old, as stated in section 376A of the Singapore Penal Code.
The genders of the parties does not matter. It also does not matter whether the minor had consented to having sex.
A person found guilty of having underage sex can be fined and/or jailed for up to 10 years. If the minor was below 14 years old, the offender can be jailed up to 20 years, and either fined or caned.
If the parties were of the opposite sex but the girl was under 14, the man can be convicted of rape instead (see below).
What If You Didn’t Know Your Partner was a Minor?
Section 377D of the Penal Code states that:
- Offenders above 21 years old cannot claim that they mistakenly believed the person was not underage as a defence.
- Offenders below 21 years old may claim that they mistakenly believed the person was not underage as a defence. However, this is only if that person is of the opposite sex, and if the offender has not committed any similar sexual offences before.
Under section 375 of the Penal Code, a man will be guilty of rape if he has vaginal sex with:
- Any woman without her consent; or
- A girl under 14 years old, regardless of whether she had given her consent.
If the girl was between 14 and 16 years old, the man (regardless of age) can be found guilty of rape only if he had sex with her without her consent. If the sex was consensual, then the man can only be found guilty of having sex with a minor under 16 years old (as discussed above).
Sexual Assault by Penetration
Women cannot technically commit “rape” as the rape provision (i.e. section 375 of the Penal Code) applies only to male offenders. However, they can be convicted for sexual assault by penetration under section 376 of the Penal Code if they use a part of their body (or an object) to penetrate another person’s vagina or anus without that person’s consent.
Men also cannot technically “rape” male victims as the rape provision applies only to female victims. However, they can similarly be convicted of sexual assault by penetration if they have oral or anal sex with another male without his consent.
Molest (Outrage of Modesty)
Molest is prosecuted as the offence of outrage of modesty in Singapore when it involves criminal force, pursuant to section 354 of the Penal Code.
We have another article with more information on the offence of outrage of modesty in Singapore.
Sexual grooming occurs when an offender on or above 21 years old meets another person under 16 years old with the intention of having sex, where the offender had previously met or communicated with him/her at least 2 times.
Commercial Sex with Minors
Commercial sex (i.e. paying for sex) with persons under 18 years old is a punishable offence under section 376B of the Penal Code.
Under section 376C of the Penal Code, Singapore citizens or Permanent Residents who engage in commercial sex with persons under 18 will still be liable even if the acts were done outside of Singapore.
Sending sexually suggestive messages to a person under 16 year old may result in a prosecution under section 7 of the Children and Young Persons Act or section 76E of the Penal Code.
Read our other article for more information on the laws on sexting in Singapore.
Other Sexual Offences
The following are also punishable offences in Singapore:
- Intercourse between men
- Incest, i.e. sex with family members
- Necrophilia, i.e. sex with corpses
- Bestiality, i.e. sex with animals
- Child prostitution
- Child pornography
- Sexual harassment
The quantum of punishment for each respective sexual offence, such as the length of imprisonment or sum of fine, can be found in the Penal Code under the relevant sections for each offence.
However, the exact punishment that will be handed down by the judge will depend on the nature of the offence committed. We have more information on the sentencing framework for sexual offences in Singapore in another article.
If you have been charged with a sexual offence and are looking for a lawyer to represent you, feel free to get in touch with one of our trusted criminal defence lawyers.
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