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.
The penalties for a person found guilty of having underage sex depends on the age of the minor:
- If the minor was between 14 years old and 16 years old, the offender can be jailed up to 20 years, and either fined or caned, if the offender was in an exploitative relationship with the minor. (See below for what it means to be in an exploitative relationship.) If the parties were not in such a relationship, the offender can be fined and/or jailed up to 10 years.
- If the minor was under 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 and the girl was under 14, the man can be convicted of rape instead (see below).
If the minor was between 16 and 18 years old, the offender could also be charged if the parties were in an exploitative relationship (more information below).
What If You Didn’t Know Your Partner Was a Minor?
Section 377D of the Penal Code states that being mistaken about your partner’s age is not a valid defence for any sexual offence charges.
This is unless you have been charged with a sexual offence that requires the minor to be between 16 and 18 years old (such as having sex in exploitative relationships, as explained below), and:
- You had a reasonable mistaken belief that your partner was 18 years old or older;
- You have not been charged with similar sexual offences before; and
- You took all reasonable steps to confirm that your partner was 18 years old or older.
Under section 375 of the Penal Code, a man will be guilty of rape if he has vaginal, oral or anal 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 had been between 14 and 16 years old, the man (regardless of age) can be found guilty of rape only if he had had sex with her without her consent. If the sex had been consensual, then the man can be found guilty of only having sex with a minor between 14 years old and 16 years old (as discussed above).
As of 1 January 2020, the rape offence also covers male victims. A man can also be found guilty of rape if he has oral or anal sex with:
- Another person (whether male or female) without their consent;
- Another person (whether male or female) under 14 years old, regardless of whether they had given their consent.
As of 1 January 2020, men can also be found guilty of rape against their wives if their wives had not consented to having sex.
For more information, refer to our other article on rape laws in Singapore.
Sexual Assault Involving 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 of sexual assault involving 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; or
- Causes a man to penetrate their vagina, anus or mouth without that man’s consent.
Men can also be convicted of sexual assault involving penetration if they use any part of their body (that is not their penis), or an object, to penetrate another person’s vagina or anus without that person’s consent.
Having Sex in Exploitative Relationships
Under the Penal Code, an accused person’s relationship with a minor under 18 years old may be considered exploitative depending on factors such as:
- The age of the minor
- The age gap between the parties
- The nature of the parties’ relationship
- The extent of control or influence that the accused exercised over the minor
If the accused holds certain positions of authority over the minor, the parties’ relationship will also be presumed to be exploitative unless the accused can prove otherwise. Such positions of authority include the accused being the minor’s:
- Parent or step-parent
- Teacher (while the minor is still a student)
- Religious, musical or sporting instructor
If a person in an exploitative relationship with a minor between 16 and 18 years old has sex (whether vaginal, oral or anal) with the minor, that person can be jailed up to 15 years, and either fined or caned. This is even if the minor had consented to having sex.
Not Sure What To Do Next?
Get a 20-minute phone call with a lawyer for only $59
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 18 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 1 time.
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 outside of Singapore can still be liable for an offence.
Sending sexually suggestive messages to a person under 16 years old may result in a prosecution under section 7 of the Children and Young Persons Act or section 376E 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.
- Singapore’s Extraterritorial Jurisdiction: What Does It Mean?
- Your Right to a Lawyer After Being Arrested in Singapore
- What to Do If Your Loved One is Under Police Investigation
- How to Write a Letter of Representation to AGC in Singapore
- What is Entrapment and is It Legal in Singapore?
- What Happens When You Voluntarily Surrender to the Police
- Juvenile Crime: What If Your Child is Arrested in Singapore?
- Seized Assets in Money Laundering Investigations: What Happens To Them?
- Tasers, Batons, Shields & Firearms: When Do the Police Use Them?
- Stopped by the Singapore Police For Spot Checks, Etc: What to Do
- What is the Appropriate Adult Scheme in Singapore?
- Police Investigation Process for Crimes in Singapore (4 Steps)
- Arrest Warrant Issued Against You in Singapore: What to Do
- Police Arrest Procedure in Singapore
- Arrestable and Non-Arrestable Offences in Singapore
- What Should You Do If You Witness a Crime in Singapore?
- Can the Public Make a Citizen's Arrest in Singapore?
- What to Do If You’re Being Investigated for a Criminal Offence in Singapore
- "Right to Remain Silent" to Singapore Police: Does It Exist?
- Police Custody in Singapore: What You Should Know
- Search Warrant: The Issuance and Execution of It in Singapore
- Penalties for Lying to the Authorities in Singapore
- Can You Say No to a Lie Detector Test in Singapore? And Other FAQs
- Surrender of Passport to the Police and How to Get It Back
- Extradition: What If I Flee After Committing Crime in Singapore
- Making Objections at Trial in the Singapore Courts
- When is a Witness Testimony Unreliable in Singapore?
- Burden of Proof in Criminal and Civil Cases in Singapore
- Falsely Accused of a Crime in Singapore: Your Next Steps
- What is Acquittal & How Can One Be Acquitted in Singapore?
- Using the Defence of Diminished Responsibility in Singapore
- Death of a Party in a Legal Case in Singapore: What Happens?
- The "Unusually Convincing" Test in "He Said, She Said" Cases
- How to Adjourn or Postpone a Criminal Court Hearing
- TIC: Guide to Charges Taken Into Consideration in Singapore
- Can I Use the Defence of Intoxication in Singapore?
- When Can I Raise the Defence of Provocation in Singapore?
- Writing Character References For Court: What’s Their Purpose?
- Giving False vs. Wrong Evidence: What’s the Difference?
- Can I Represent Myself in a Criminal Court Case in Singapore and How?
- Claiming Trial as an Accused
- Pleading Guilty in Singapore: Consequences & Withdrawal of Plea
- The Defence of Unsound Mind in Singapore: What is It?
- Gag Orders in Singapore: Whose Identity Can be Protected?
- Mitigation Plea: How to Plead for Leniency in Court in Singapore
- Recidivism: What Happens If You Reoffend in Singapore?
- Guide to Filing a Criminal Appeal in Singapore
- Criminal Motion: What is It and How to File One in Singapore
- Guide to Filing a Criminal Revision in Singapore
- Presidential Clemency in Singapore
- Repatriation or Deportation from Singapore: How Does It Work?
- Criminal Records in Singapore
- Visiting a Loved One in Prison or On Death Row in Singapore
- Getting Parole (Early Prison Release) in Singapore
- Fined for an Offence: What to Do If I Can't Afford to Pay Them?
- How Long Is Life Imprisonment in Singapore? And Other FAQs
- Corrective Training and Its Consequences in Singapore
- Consequences of Receiving a Stern Warning in Singapore
- Probation: Eligibility and Whether It Leaves a Criminal Record
- How Can Adult Offenders Get Probation in Singapore?
- Reformative Training in Singapore: When Will It be Ordered?
- Are You Eligible for a Mandatory Treatment Order (MTO)?
- Caning in Singapore: Judicial, School & Parental Corporal Punishment
- 7 Detention Orders in Singapore: When Will They be Ordered?
- Day Reporting Order: Eligibility and Offender's Obligations
- Ragging and Bullying: Their Penalties and What Victims Can Do
- Laws Protecting Informers/Whistleblowers in Singapore
- Counterfeit Medicine/Health Products: Redress for Victims in Singapore
- Breach of Protection Orders: What Can Victims Do?
- Using Your Right to Self-Defence When Attacked in Singapore
- Compensation for Crime Victims in Singapore: How to Obtain
- Rape Laws in Singapore and How Offenders Can Be Punished
- Sexual Misconduct in Singapore: Offences and What Victims Can Do
- Falsely Accused of Rape in Singapore: What to Do
- Incest and Family Sexual Abuse: Penalties and Victim Protection
- How are Sexual Offenders with Special Needs Penalised?
- Cybersexual Crimes in Singapore and Their Penalties
- Legal Age for Sex in Singapore and Common Sexual Offences
- Consent in Sexual Offences in Singapore and What Victims Can Do
- Accused of Molest: Outrage of Modesty in Singapore
- What Can Victims of Sexual Harassment in Singapore Do?
- What is the Law on Sexting in Singapore?
- Revenge Porn: What If Your Nudes are Leaked in Singapore?
- Crime of Voyeurism in Singapore (Penalties and Defences)
- Date Rape: What to Do If Your Drink Has Been Unlawfully Spiked?
- STDs: Can I Go to the Police If a Partner Infected Me in Singapore?
- Alcohol Breathalyser Test in Singapore: Can You Refuse it?
- Are Sex Toys and Sex Dolls Legal in Singapore?
- Singapore's Legal Smoking Age & Common Smoking Offences
- Is Vaping Illegal in Singapore?
- Legal Drinking Age and Drinking-Related Laws in Singapore
- Is Watching, Downloading or Filming Porn Illegal in Singapore?
- Child Pornography in Singapore: Offences and Penalties
- Laws on Procuring Sex Workers & Sexual Services in Singapore
- Singapore's Drug Laws: Possession, Consumption and Trafficking
- Gambling Legally (at Home, in Public or Online) in Singapore
- The Offence of Human Trafficking in Singapore and Its Penalties
- What is a Protected Area and Place in Singapore?
- Penalties For Buying Stolen Goods in Singapore
- Penalties for Committing Theft in Singapore
- Committing Robbery in Singapore: What are the Penalties?
- Penalties for Dishonest Misappropriation of Property in Singapore
- Vandalism Laws: Penalties for Damaging Property in Singapore
- Criminal Trespass in Singapore: What Happens If You’re Caught?
- Penalties for Littering Offences in Singapore
- What is a POFMA Correction Direction and How to Appeal
- Penalties for Cheating/Scamming and What Victims Can Do
- Penalties for Impersonating Someone and Victim Redress
- Singapore Fake News Laws: Guide to POFMA (Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act)
- Laws and Penalties for Doxxing in Singapore (With Examples)
- Tax Evasion in Singapore: Penalties and Examples
- Criminal Breach of Trust (CBT) in Singapore: What is It?
- All You Need to Know About Corruption in Singapore
- Anti-Money Laundering Laws and You
- 5 Things You Need to Know about Insider Trading
- Dishonest Assistance and Knowing Receipt: The Case of David Rasif
- Charged with a Traffic Offence in Singapore: What to Do
- DUI: Here are the Penalties for Drink-Driving in Singapore
- What Happens If You’re Caught Speeding in Singapore?
- Road Rage: What is It and How are Offenders Sentenced in Singapore
- Penalties for Dangerous Driving for Singapore Drivers
- Fatal Traffic Accidents: Are Drivers Always Punished?
- Guide to E-Scooter and PMD Laws for Singapore Riders
- Is it Legal for Drivers to Carpool in Singapore?
- Radicalisation and Terror Attack-Related Penalties in Singapore
- Causing a Public Nuisance in Singapore: What are the Penalties?
- Causing Public Alarm in Singapore: Examples & Penalties
- Public Assemblies and Processions in Singapore
- Misbehaving in Public: 5 Things You Need to Know
- Racial Enmity: Sections 298 and 298A Penal Code Explained
- Religious Cults in Singapore: Are they Illegal? Penalties & More
- Penalties for Financing Terrorist Operations in Singapore
- Penalties for Abetting Minors or Committing Crimes Against Them
- Misusing the Singapore Flag and Other National Symbols
- What are the Penalties for Committing Forgery in Singapore?
- Arson and Fire-Related Offences and Their Penalties in Singapore
- Offences Against the Dead and What Family Members Can Do
- Laws on Prohibited, Replica and Self-Defence Weapons
- Laws to Tackle High-Rise Littering in Singapore
- Penalties for Attempting to Commit a Crime in Singapore
- Penalties for Assaulting a Person in Singapore
- Expats Charged With Offences in Singapore: What to Expect
- What are the Penalties for Hiring Phantom Workers in Singapore?
- What Are Ponzi Schemes? Are They Illegal in Singapore?
- Modification of Cars, Motorcycles, Etc: Is It Legal in Singapore?
- Penalties for Illegal Immigration and Overstaying in Singapore
- Criminal Intimidation: Penalties for Making Threats in Singapore