What is the legal age for sex in Singapore? What are some common sexual offences in Singapore?

Published on July 27, 2011

Pursuant to section 376A of the Penal Code, sexual penetration of a minor under 16 is an offence even if the minor has given consent. Both male and female minors are covered by this provision. In addition, according to the definitions of the aforementioned section, sex consists of sexual penetration, and includes vaginal, oral or anal sex.

In addition, commercial sex with minors under 18 is also a punishable offence pursuant to section 376B of the Penal Code. Furthermore, under section 376C of the Penal Code, Singapore citizens or Permanent Residents who engage in commercial sex with a minor under 18 will still be liable even if the acts were done in a location outside of Singapore.

With regards to the common protest: “I did not know she was below 16”, section 377D of the Penal Code clearly states that:

  1. If the offender is above the age of 21, he cannot claim that he mistakenly believed the minor was not underage as a defence.
  2. If the offender is below the age of 21, he may claim that he mistakenly believed the minor was not underage as a defence, but only if the minor was of the opposite sex, and if the offender has not previously committed any similar sexual offences before.

In Singapore, pursuant to section 375 of the Penal Code, rape is committed when a man has sexual intercourse with a woman without her consent. Sex is also rape when the victim is a girl under the age of 14, regardless of whether she had given her consent.

Sending sexually suggestive messages (see sexting laws in Singapore) to a person under 16 year old may result in a prosecution under section 7 of the Children and Young Persons Act (CYPA) or section s76E of the Penal Code.

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.

Incest, sex with animals or corpses, child prostitution, and child pornography are also punishable offences in Singapore (refer to the section on sexual offences in the Penal Code for more information). Intercourse between two men is prohibited under section 377A of the Penal Code. This controversial section has received much attention from the public, with some calling for its repeal due to its alleged discrimination against the gay community.

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. The exact punishment that will be handed down by the judge depends on the nature of the offence committed.

If you wish to find out more about the sentencing framework for sexual offences, please read “Sentencing in sexual offences: What are the aggravating and mitigating factors?“.

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