Rape and Domestic Violence: The government enforced the law against rape, which provides for imprisonment of up to 20 years and the possibility of caning for offenders. By law only a man can commit rape. A man cannot legally be a victim of rape, but he may be the victim of unlawful sexual penetration, which carries the same penalties as rape. Spousal rape is generally not a crime, but husbands who force their wives to have intercourse can be prosecuted for other offenses, such as assault. Spousal rape is a criminal offense when the couple is separated, subject to an interim divorce order that has not become final, or subject to a written separation agreement, as well as when a court has issued a protection order against the husband. From January to October, 16 persons were charged with rape; five of the 16 were statutory rape cases involving girls under the age of 14. Agencies, including the Ministry of Education and the police, carried out programs to raise awareness of sexual offenses.
The law criminalizes domestic violence and intentional harassment. Victims of domestic violence can obtain court orders restraining the respondent from using violence against them and barring the spouse from the home until the court is satisfied that the spouse has ceased aggressive behavior. The law prescribes mandatory caning and a minimum imprisonment of two years for conviction on any charge of “outraging modesty” that caused the victim to fear death or injury. From January to October, there were 214 cases of outrage of modesty. The press gave prominent coverage to instances of abuse or violence against women. Several voluntary welfare organizations assisted abused women. From January to October, there were 2,357 applications of personal protection orders, 51 percent of which were filed by wives for protection from their husbands.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): Type I (as classified by the World Health Organization) female genital mutilation/cutting was practiced among a small portion of the Muslim population. Normally involving nicking the prepuce but in some cases the partial or total removal of the clitoris, these procedures were performed by female doctors at Muslim clinics, usually on female infants or prepubescent girls. There is no legislation banning the practice.
Sexual Harassment: By law a person who uses threatening, abusive, or insulting words or behavior can incur a fine of up to S$5,000 ($2,875). The law criminalizes harassment and cites examples that include harassment both within and outside the workplace, cyberbullying, and bullying of children. It also provides a range of self-help measures, civil remedies, and enhanced criminal sanctions to protect against harassment. Additionally it makes stalking an offense punishable with a fine of up to S$5,000 ($2,875), imprisonment for up to 12 months, or both.
According to police statistics, lewd acts decreased by 6.2 percent, from 657 cases in the first half of 2014 to 616 cases in the same period in 2015. There were fewer reports of such acts on trains and in open areas, but reports of such acts on public buses increased. The Ministry of Manpower, the National Trades Union Council, and the Employers Federation jointly operated a venue for public feedback and advice on fair employment practices.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals have the right to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children; manage their reproductive health; and have access to the information and means to do so, free from discrimination, coercion, and violence.
Discrimination: Women enjoy the same legal rights as men, including civil liberties, employment, commercial activity, and education. In 2013 women made up 51.6 percent of university graduates and 42.5 percent of professionals, managers, executives, and technicians. Women were well represented in many professions. As of June 2014, 41.4 percent of residents employed as professionals were women. No laws mandate nondiscrimination in hiring practice on the basis of gender, prohibit employers from asking questions about a prospective employee’s family status during a job interview, provide for flexible or part-time work schedules for employees with minor children, or establish public provision of childcare.
According to a National University of Singapore Business School report published in 2013 on the diversity of executive boards, women held 8.3 percent of directorships and 21.2 percent of senior management positions (excluding executive directors) in companies listed on the stock exchange. They were overrepresented in low-wage jobs such as clerks and secretaries.
For the most part, Muslim marriage falls under the Administration of the Muslim Law Act, which empowers the Syariah Court and the Registry of Muslim Marriages to oversee such matters. The law allows Muslim men to practice polygyny, although the Registry of Muslim Marriages, which solicits the views of an existing wife or wives and reviews the financial capability of the husband, may refuse husbands’ requests to take additional spouses. In the first 10 months of the year, there were 30 applications for polygynous marriage; the registry approved 12. Polygynous marriages constituted 0.3 percent of Muslim marriages.
Both men and women have the right to initiate divorce proceedings, and both may apply to the Syariah Court for a waiver of court fees if they cannot afford to pay. Women faced significant difficulties, including a lack of financial resources to obtain legal counsel, which prevented some of them from pursuing such proceedings. Men do not have the right to seek alimony from their wives in cases of divorce or separation.
Birth Registration: The law requires that all births be registered within 14 days of occurrence. Citizenship derives from one’s parents.
Child Abuse: The Children and Young Persons Act criminalizes mistreatment of children, including physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. The government enforced the law against child abuse and provided support services for child-abuse victims.
Early and Forced Marriage: The law characterizes unmarried persons under age 21 as minors and persons under 14 as children. Individuals under age 21 wishing to marry must obtain parental consent. In addition to obtaining parental consent, individuals under age 18 require a special license from the Ministry of Social and Family Development. Couples in which one person is under age 18, or where both are between ages 18 and 21, are required to attend a marriage preparation program before they can be issued a marriage license.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): See information under women above.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: Some child sex trafficking occurred. The law criminalizes human trafficking, including child sex trafficking. From January to October, there were eight cases of sex trafficking involving victims under age 18; three cases resulted in a conviction with a 75-month imprisonment and a fine of S$30,000 ($20,800). The remaining cases were under investigation at year’s end.
The age of consent for noncommercial sex is 16. Sexual intercourse with a person under age 16 is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, a fine, or both, and punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine or caning if the victim is 14 or younger. Most individuals convicted of pedophilia received several weeks to several months in jail. Authorities may detain (but do not prosecute) persons under age 18 whom they believe to be engaged in prostitution. They prosecute those who organize or profit from prostitution, bring women or girls to the country for prostitution, or coerce or deceive women or girls into prostitution. The law is ambiguous regarding employment of persons ages 16 to 18 in the production of pornography.
International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.
There were approximately 800 to 1,000 members of the Jewish community. There were no reports of anti-Semitic acts.
Trafficking in Persons
See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.
Persons with Disabilities
The Ministry of Social and Family Development is responsible for protecting the rights of persons with disabilities. There is no comprehensive legislation addressing equal opportunities for persons with disabilities in education or employment. In April the ministry announced the development of its third enabling master plan, a five-year policy plan for the programs and services in the disability sector. The new plan focuses on greater inclusiveness for persons with disabilities and more support for caregivers.
During the 2015 presidential elections, voters with visual disabilities could cast their vote independently with stencils, and electoral law allows voters who are unable to vote in the manner described by law to receive assistance from election officials to mark and cast their ballots. During the year the Disabled People’s Association published a report, “Achieving Inclusion in the Electoral Process,” that included several recommendations to the government for breaking down the barriers to electoral participation for persons with disabilities, including voting assistance by a person of one’s choosing.
The government maintained a comprehensive code on barrier-free accessibility, established standards for facilities for persons with physical disabilities in all new buildings, and mandated the progressive upgrading of older structures. SG Enable, established by the Ministry of Social and Family Development, provided job training and placement program for persons with disabilities. A tax deduction of up to S$100,000 ($72,000) was available to employers to defray approved expenditures incurred in modifying buildings to accommodate employees with disabilities. The government also provided a tax deduction of up to S$7,500 ($5,400) for families caring for a sibling, spouse, or child with a disability and up to S$14,000 ($10,000) for a parent or grandparent. The country allows guide dogs for the blind (but not other service animals) in public places, on buses, and on trains. Although the laws do not cover taxis, the government worked with the taxi industry to develop guidelines. Public trains were 100 percent wheelchair accessible, and approximately 85 percent of bus routes were wheelchair accessible.
Informal provisions permitted university matriculation for those with visual, hearing, or physical disabilities. Approximately 18,500 children with disabilities with mild special education needs attended mainstream schools in 2015. There were 20 special education schools, which enrolled 5,516 students in 2015. All primary and secondary schools were equipped with basic accessibility facilities, such as accessible toilets and first-level wheelchair ramps. Approximately 30 percent of all primary and 20 percent of secondary schools were equipped with facilities to address access for persons with disabilities. All primary schools were resourced with at least one specialist to support students with mild special education needs, and 81 secondary schools were resourced with an Allied Educator to support students with mild special needs. As of the end of 2015, 10 percent of teachers in all primary school and 20 percent of teachers in all secondary school were trained in special education.
The government provided funds for two distinct types of early education programs for children with disabilities. The Early Intervention Program for Infants and Children provided educational and therapy services for children up to age six with moderate to severe needs. As of October 2015, 2,600 children participated. The government also sponsored a Development Support Program to provide learning support and therapy services in mainstream schools for children up to age six with mild developmental disabilities. Approximately 1,200 children received services from this support program in 2015.
Ethnic Malays constituted approximately 13 percent of the population. The constitution acknowledges them as the indigenous people of the country and charges the government to support and promote their political, educational, religious, economic, social, cultural, and language interests. Although the government took steps to encourage greater educational achievement among Malay students and upgrading of skills among Malay workers, ethnic Malays have not reached the educational or socioeconomic levels achieved by the ethnic Chinese majority, the ethnic Indian minority, or the Eurasian community. Malays remained underrepresented at senior corporate levels and, some asserted, in certain sectors of the government and the military. This reflected their historically lower educational and economic levels, but some argued it also was a result of employment discrimination.
The Presidential Council on Minority Rights examined all pending bills to ensure that they were not disadvantageous to a particular group. It also reported to the government on matters that affected any racial or religious community.
Government policy designed to facilitate interethnic harmony and prevent the formation of racial enclaves enforced ethnic ratios, applicable for all ethnic groups, for all forms of public housing.
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
Section 377a of the penal code criminalizes and punishes male-to-male sexual relations as follows: “Any male person who, in public or private, commits, or abets the commission of, or procures or attempts to procure the commission by any male person of, any act of gross indecency with another male person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years.” The law does not criminalize female-to-female sexual relations. After the failure of a 2007 attempt to repeal this provision, Prime Minister Lee stated that authorities would not actively enforce the statute. In 2014 the Court of Appeals rejected a constitutional challenge, finding that 377a did not contravene the equal protection clause.
No laws explicitly provide for the protection of the LGBTI community from discrimination based on sexual orientation. Moreover, since single persons are prevented from purchasing government housing reserved for married couples until age 35, LGBTI persons, who are unable to wed, were more susceptible to these restrictions.
In two surveys of LGBTI citizens conducted in the last four years–the Homophobia and Transphobia Survey 2012 and the National LGBTI Census 2013–the majority of LGBTI persons reported having experienced abuse or bullying on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity at some point while growing up.
Recruitment procedures do not bar members of the LGBTI community from military service but classify LGBTI military personnel by sexual orientation and evaluate them on a scale of “effeminacy.” LGBTI citizens may become government workers but must declare their sexual orientation on job applications. Changing of gender on official documents is allowed only through sex reassignments. Media censorship perpetuated negative stereotypes of LGBTI individuals by restricting portrayals of LGBTI life. The IMDA continued to censor films and television shows with LGBTI themes. According to the IMDA website, authorities allow the broadcast of LGBTI themes on television “as long as the presentation does not justify, promote, or glamorize such a lifestyle” (see section 2.a.).
HIV and AIDS Social Stigma
Some individuals with HIV/AIDS claimed that they were socially marginalized and faced employment discrimination if they revealed their HIV/AIDS status. The government discouraged discrimination, supported initiatives that countered misperceptions about HIV/AIDS, and publicly praised employers that welcomed workers with HIV/AIDS. In April 2015 the government lifted its 20-year ban on HIV-positive visitors, although HIV-positive individuals are still barred from work permits or immigrant visas.