Accused of Molest: Outrage of Modesty in Singapore
“Outrage of modesty” is a term commonly seen in the papers – for example, where a man gropes a woman inappropriately and ends up serving jail time for it. It seems that the outrage of modesty has been equated with the crime of molest in Singapore.
If you were to search through the main source of criminal legislation in Singapore – the Penal Code – you can locate the term at section 354 of the Code itself. What, then, does the term “outrage of modesty” actually mean in the first place?
Meaning of “Outrage of Modesty”
The use of the term “outrage of modesty” originates from section 354 of the Penal Code which criminalises the offence of the:
“assault or use of criminal force to a person with intent to outrage modesty“.
The use of criminal force is a key element. Hence, simply staring at someone inappropriately would not fall afoul of this section, which has mainly been applied to molestation cases.
As for what it means to actually outrage someone’s modesty, there appears to be no easy answer to this question. The Penal Code does not expressly define “modesty”. This may be partly because views about what constitutes an outrage to modesty may vary over time and according to the context in which the incident occurs, as well as the race or religion of the victim.
Cases of Molestation
A wide variety of cases falling within the definition of the outrage of modesty have been reported. They include:
- A tutor touching the breasts and thighs of a student
- Hugging and kissing a woman
- Grabbing a woman from behind and squeezing her breasts
- Touching a secretary on the back and slapping her lightly on her buttocks
- An acupuncturist kissing and nibbling his victim’s toes
A Gender-Neutral Crime
The offence of outraging modesty can be committed by men or women.
However, it is evident that more often than not, male culprits are the ones responsible for transgressions of section 354.
Consent, Intention and Knowledge
Intimate physical acts would not constitute an outrage of modesty if there is consent.
Also, for the offence to stand, the offender must have intended or knew that the acts were likely to outrage modesty.
For instance, a couple dancing closely in a club would be taken to have impliedly consented to mutual touching. Similarly, a doctor examining a female patient in accordance with established medical procedures would likely to not be found to have intended to outrage the patient’s modesty.
Aggravated Punishments in Certain Cases
- Section 73 of the Penal Code provides enhanced punishments for offences against domestic maids.
- Section 354(2) also provides for harsher punishments in cases involving victims below 14 years of age.
- Section 354A similarly imposes stiffer sentences against offenders in “outrage of modesty” cases which involve offences committed in lifts, physical threats, voluntarily causing hurt, wrongful restraint, and death.
Although the provision requires the involvement of assault or the use of criminal force in the act, this does not mean that other perverted acts that do not require physical contact will go unpunished.
For example, section 509 of the Penal Code criminalises words or gestures intended to “insult the modesty” of women. The Singapore courts have interpreted this section to include the taking of upskirt photographs.
Mere attempts to outrage a woman’s modesty, including failed attempts to commit an offence, are also punishable under section 511 of the Penal Code.
If you have been charged with committing outrage of modesty, you may consult one of our criminal defence lawyers for legal advice on how to proceed with your case.
- Police Investigation Process in Singapore
- When Can the Police Arrest Someone?: Arrestable and Non-Arrestable Offences in Singapore
- Police Arrest Procedure in Singapore
- Can a Civilian Arrest a Criminal in Singapore?
- Is lying to the police or authorities a punishable offence in Singapore?
- Surrender of Passport to the Police and How to Get It Back
- What to Do If You’re Being Investigated for a Criminal Offence in Singapore
- Can You Say No to a Lie Detector Test in Singapore? And Other FAQs
- Do You Have a "Right to Remain Silent" to the Police in Singapore?
- The Extradition Act: What If You Commit a Crime and Flee Singapore?
- Warrant of Arrest: What to Do If It is Issued Against You in Singapore
- Criminal Compensation in Singapore
- What Can I Do to Protect Myself in Self-Defence in Singapore?
- Claiming Trial as an Accused
- Mitigation Plea
- Pleading Guilty
- Criminal Appeals in Singapore
- Presidential Clemency in Singapore
- Probation in Singapore: Are You Eligible? Will You Have a Criminal Record?
- What Should You Do If You Witness a Crime in Singapore?
- Reformative Training in Singapore: When will it be Ordered?
- Visiting a Loved One in Prison (And on Death Row) in Singapore
- 7 Detention Orders in Singapore and When Will They be Ordered?
- Consequences of Receiving a Stern Warning in Singapore
- Are You Eligible for a Mandatory Treatment Order (MTO)?
- Can I Represent Myself in a Criminal Court Case in Singapore and How?
- Caning in Singapore: Judicial, School & Parental Corporal Punishment
- Is it illegal to visit prostitutes in Singapore?
- Is Watching, Downloading or Filming Porn Illegal in Singapore?
- Singapore's Drug Laws: Possession, Consumption and Trafficking
- When is Gambling Illegal in Singapore?
- Is Vaping Illegal in Singapore?
- DUI: Here are the Penalties for Drink-Driving in Singapore
- Legal Drinking Age in Singapore and Other Drinking-Related Laws
- Smoking in Singapore: Legal Age and Penalties for Illegal Smoking
- The Difference Between Murder and Culpable Homicide in Singapore
- Is it illegal to commit suicide in Singapore? Will I be punished if my attempt at suicide fails?
- Is it illegal to feed stray animals in Singapore?
- What are Sham Marriages and are They Illegal in Singapore?
- Public Assemblies and Processions in Singapore: Police Permits and the Public Order Act
- What is the Offence of Rioting?
- Penalties for Voluntarily Causing Hurt in Singapore (Non-Arrestable)
- Misbehaving in Public: 5 Things You Need to Know
- Is it Legal for Drivers to Carpool in Singapore?
- Complete Guide to E-Scooter and PMD Laws for Singapore Riders
- Is Joining a Gang Illegal in Singapore?: Being Recruited and Penalties
- What Happens If You’re Caught Speeding in Singapore?
- Charged with a Traffic Offence in Singapore: What to Do
- Committing Theft in Singapore: What are the Penalties?
- Road Rage: What is It and How are Offenders Sentenced in Singapore
- Singapore Fake News Laws: Guide to POFMA (Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act)
- Laws and Penalties for Doxxing in Singapore (With Examples)
- Littering and Killer Litter Offences: Here are the Penalties in Singapore
- Organised Crimes: Penalties/Orders Syndicates Face in Singapore