Family Violence

by | Feb 2, 2016

Amid Singapore’s remarkable progress and prosperity, a deeply hidden and distressing issue exists: domestic and family violence. This painful reality affects countless individuals as they endure the devastating impacts of physical abuse, family violence, and physical violence within their homes.

Domestic violence in Singapore doesn’t only refer to physical aggression or verbal abuse. Violence can come in multiple forms and can be emotional or sexual. Spouses, children, parents, or other family members can be subject to such gross mistreatment.

While it is true that men are often the perpetrators of domestic violence, they can also be victims. Singapore law does not discriminate based on gender, religious belief, race, or age. The Courts consider the nuances of each case of alleged family violence.


What is “Family Violence”?

Family Violence is defined in the Women’s Charter as one of the following acts:

  • Wilfully or knowingly placing, or attempting to place a family member in fear of hurt
  • Causing hurt to a family member by such act which is known or ought to have been known would result in hurt
  • Wrongfully confining or restraining a family member against his will
  • Causing continual harassment with intent to cause or knowing that it is likely to cause anguish to a family member
  • This does not include any force lawfully used in self­ defense, or by way of correction towards a child below 21 years of age


Who Should Be Protected According To The Women's Charter?

The Women’s Charter Section 64, a critical piece of legislation in Singapore, aims to protect individuals in cases of domestic abuse or family violence. This provision safeguards married individuals and extends protection to any family member regardless of age or gender.

The following persons are considered to be family members:

  • Spouse or former spouse of the person;
  • Child of the person in question, including an adopted child and a step­child;
  • Father or mother of the person in question;
  • Father ­in ­law or mother ­in ­law of the person in question;
  • Brother or sister of the person in question; or
  • Any other relative of the person in question
  • Any other person whom the Court feels should be regarded as a member of the family because of the person’s incapacity, physical or mental disability, ill­ health or old age

The Women’s Charter’s definition of “family member” is quite extensive in this context. In cases where the individual requiring protection is either a child or an incapacitated person, a guardian, relative, or someone responsible for their care can seek protective measures.

This inclusive approach ensures that vulnerable individuals are safeguarded and supported in family violence or domestic abuse situations.


Protecting Yourself Against Domestic Abuse In Singapore

Protecting Yourself Against Domestic Abuse In Singapore

Addressing and protecting against domestic and family violence is paramount. A crucial measure available to those affected by such abuse is the Personal Protection Order (PPO).

Personal Protection Order

Personal Protection Orders in Singapore are legal measures granted by the Courts to protect victims of domestic or family violence. It restrains the perpetrator from committing further acts of violence, harassment, or threats against the affected individual.

The PPO can be issued to safeguard a wide range of family members, including spouses, children, parents, and other relatives connected by blood, marriage, or adoption.

Applying For A Personal Protection Order

Taking the crucial step to protect oneself from domestic or family violence in Singapore may feel overwhelming. However, by seeking a Personal Protection Order (PPO), victims can gain a sense of security and legal recourse to deter further abuse.

When applying for a PPO, gathering and presenting relevant evidence to support the claim of family violence is essential. This evidence, combined with the courage to stand up against the abuse, can empower individuals to break free from the cycle of violence and build a safer environment for themselves and their loved ones.

Victims in family violence cases must provide the following pieces of evidence before applying for a PPO:

  • Evidence of family violence or a threat of violence, such as photos of injuries, damaged property, or threatening messages
  • Witness statements from individuals who have witnessed the abuse or its aftermath
  • Medical reports/records documenting injuries caused by the abuse
  • Police reports related to incidents of violence or threats.
  • Any other relevant documentation supporting the victim’s claim of family violence

What Happens After Applying For A PPO?

Upon applying for a Personal Protection Order (PPO), the Family Justice Courts in Singapore will thoroughly review the case to determine if the order is warranted. The primary goal of the PPO is to ensure the personal safety of victims and provide relief from domestic or family violence.

During the Court proceedings, both the applicant and the respondent can present their respective cases. This process might involve providing evidence, witness testimonies, or legal arguments. The Court may grant an interim protection order, providing immediate safety for the applicant while awaiting the final decision.

Once the Family Justice Courts have assessed all the relevant information, they will decide whether to issue a PPO or dismiss the application.

If granted, the PPO will legally restrain the respondent from committing further acts of violence or harassment. In some cases, the Court may impose additional orders, such as mandatory counselling or specific restrictions on contact.

Calling The Police

In situations involving domestic or family violence in Singapore, calling the police immediately is crucial, especially during immediate danger.

Filing a police report provides an official record of the incident, which can be vital for future legal proceedings or applications for protection orders. It is essential to understand that domestic violence is a criminal offence in Singapore, and the police have the authority to investigate and intervene accordingly.

Other Forms Of Protection For Victims Of Family Violence In Singapore

Apart from the Personal Protection Order (PPO), there are other forms of protection available to victims of domestic violence in Singapore:

  1. Domestic Exclusion Order (DEO): This order prohibits the perpetrator from entering the shared residence or specified areas within the residence, thereby ensuring the victim’s safety within their own home.
  2. Expedited Order (EO): An EO can be granted when the victim faces imminent danger and requires immediate protection. It is a temporary order issued without the respondent being present in Court, valid until the Court hears the main PPO application.
  3. Mandatory Counselling Order (MCO): An MCO may be issued in cases where the Court believes that counselling could help address the issues leading to family violence. The victim and the perpetrator must attend counselling sessions as directed by the Court.


Conclusion About Family Violence In Singapore

Family violence remains a pressing concern, impacting countless lives. Those affected can take crucial steps to protect themselves by understanding the protective measures available.


Frequently Asked Questions About Family Violence In Singapore

How Do I Apply For A Personal Protection Order?

To apply for a Personal Protection Order (PPO), visit the nearest Family Justice Court or apply online through the iFAMS portal. You must provide personal information, details about the respondent, and evidence of family violence or threats.

How Do I Report A Case Of Family Violence To The Police?

To report a case of family violence to the police, call 999 for emergencies or visit your nearest neighbourhood police centre for non-emergencies. Provide relevant details and evidence to help the police investigate the matter.

How Long Does It Take For A PPO Application To Be Processed?

The processing time for a PPO application can vary depending on the case’s complexity. Generally, it takes a few weeks to months from the application date to the Court hearing.

How Can I Obtain An Order Under The Protection From Harassment Act?

To obtain an order under the Protection from Harassment Act (POHA), you can apply for a Protection Order, Expedited Protection Order, or a Stop Publication Order at the State Courts’ Protection Order Services office or through the iFAMS portal.

Are Men Protected Under Singapore’s Family Violence Laws?

Yes, men are protected under Singapore’s family violence laws. The Women’s Charter applies to all genders, offering protection and legal recourse to male victims of family violence.

What Is Considered Emotional Abuse In The Context Of Family Violence?

Emotional abuse in the context of family violence can include manipulation, humiliation, verbal attacks, isolation, and controlling behaviour, causing psychological harm to the victim.

Can I Get A PPO Against A Verbally Abusive Family Member?

Yes, you can get a PPO against a verbally abusive family member if their behaviour is causing you alarm, distress, or harm, and it falls within the definition of family violence under the Women’s Charter.

What Are The Penalties For Committing Family Violence In Singapore?

The penalties for committing family violence in Singapore can include fines, imprisonment, or both, depending on the severity of the offence and the provisions under the Penal Code. Each case is assessed individually, and the Court will determine the appropriate penalty.

About the author

About the author

Singapore Family Lawyer

Jonathan is the Founder and Managing Director of Tembusu Law. He is also the founder of LawGuide Singapore, a prominent legaltech startup which successfully created and launched Singapore’s first legal chatbot in 2017.