What Is Outrage Of Modesty In Singapore: 9 Crucial Facts

by | Dec 1, 2023

In Singapore, the issue of outrage of modesty is treated with utmost seriousness and urgency. The term “outrage of modesty” might be confusing, but it essentially refers to actions that are considered offensive and violate a person’s dignity or personal boundaries, often in a sexual manner.

Understanding the meaning of outrage of modesty leads us to the importance of tracking its trends.

A recent report released by the Singapore Police Force reveals a relatively stable occurrence of outrage of modesty cases in Singapore in the first half of 2023, with 757 reported instances, showing a slight increase from 751 cases in the corresponding period in 2022. These OM cases constitute 7.5% of the total physical crime cases during this period.

But what exactly constitutes outrage of modesty in Singapore?

This article aims to bring clarity and understanding to this subject, especially for those who might find themselves victims or accused in such cases.

1. What Is Outrage Of Modesty In Singapore?

In Singapore, the outrage of modesty is a serious offence, referring to acts of molestation. This is outlined under Section 354(1) of the Penal Code of Singapore, which criminalises the use of criminal force on a person with the intent to outrage the modesty of that person.

This is a broad provision that can cover various inappropriate or unwelcome actions, usually of a sexual nature, that violate another person’s dignity or personal boundaries. The offences under this provision can range from inappropriate touching to other forms of sexual assault that do not amount to rape.


2. Examples Of Outraging Someone’s Modesty

The meaning of outrage of modesty is intricate, primarily due to the absence of an explicit definition of “modesty” in the Penal Code.

This omission can lead to varied interpretations and understandings among the general populace, as context, cultural nuances, the time period, and the racial or religious background of the victim heavily influence the scope and implications of outrage of modesty cases.

However, to give you an idea, here are examples of outraging someone’s modesty, which can happen at any time or place, such as on public transport, in the workplace, in nightclubs, in lifts, and dark and quiet places.

  • Inappropriate touching or groping of an individual.
  • Making lewd and unwarranted comments about a person’s appearance or body.
  • Exposing oneself inappropriately in front of another person.
  • Taking unauthorised and compromising photos or videos of a person.
  • Forcing someone to watch or engage in explicit content or actions against their will.
  • Trespassing into women’s toilets to molest them.


3. Is Attempting To Outrage Someone’s Modesty An Offence?

Section 511 of the Penal Code states that mere attempts to commit outrage of modesty are still a punishable offence. This includes situations where someone might have taken a victim to a specific place with the intention to commit outrage of modesty or where someone was following potential victims, even if they failed in committing the actual act.

Anyone caught trying to commit outrage of modesty in Singapore can face the same level of punishment as someone who has actually committed the offence. However, the Court ultimately decides the exact punishment based on each case’s specifics.

This demonstrates the strict stance of the outrage of modesty penal code to safeguard the dignity and rights of individuals, ensuring a secure and respectful environment for everyone.

4. What Is The Punishment For Outrage Of Modesty In Singapore?

When someone is accused of outrage of modesty in Singapore, the Court carefully reviews how the offence was committed to decide how severe the punishment should be. It examines details such as

  • The Circumstances Of The Crime (Whether It Was Planned Or Not)
  • The Level Of Force Used
  • How Much The Victim Was Exploited
  • The Amount Of Harm Caused To The Victim

Beyond the specifics of the offence, the Court also considers general factors related to the offender to decide the final sentence. Aggravating factors might include

  • Offender’s Past Crimes
  • Lack Of Remorse
  • Offender Facing Multiple Charges

After understanding the severity of the outrage of modesty case, the Court then looks at three different bands to decide the appropriate outrage of modesty sentence and punishment, outlined under the outrage of modesty penal code in Singapore.

  • Band 1: This usually results in less than 5 months in jail and typically no caning, if there is no more than one aggravating factor.
  • Band 2: This can result in 5-15 months in jail, and caning is usually imposed when there are two or more aggravating factors. No skin-to-skin contact places the offence at the lower end of Band 2, while skin-to-skin contact or deceiving the victim can lead to higher-end sentencing in Band 2.
  • Band 3: This is applicable when there are three or more aggravating factors, such as exploiting a vulnerable victim or serious abuse of trust. It can lead to 15-24 months in jail and caning.

On the other hand, mitigating factors, like showing remorse, pleading guilty, or having a reduced understanding due to mental or intellectual disability, can potentially lead to a lighter sentence.

This meticulous process shows how seriously outrage of modesty cases are taken in Singapore, ensuring justice and protection for the victims.


5. Penalties For Outrage Of Modesty Involving Victims Below 14 Years Old

Under Section 354(2) of the Penal Code, offences involving minors have harsher penalties, reflecting the emphasis on protecting the young and vulnerable from exploitation and harm.

The sentence for outrage of modesty involving a victim below 14 years old includes imprisonment for a term extending to 5 years, with a fine, caning, or any combination of such punishments.


6. Penalties For Outrage Of Modesty Involving Domestic Helpers

Special considerations and stringent penalties are also in place for offences involving domestic helpers, reflecting the importance of safeguarding this demographic, who may be especially vulnerable to exploitation due to their living and working conditions.

If someone is found guilty of committing acts of outrage of modesty against their domestic helper, the law, specifically Section 73 of the Penal Code, is quite strict.

It says that employers guilty of outrage of modesty are sentenced to double the usual maximum punishment. This could mean up to 6 years in prison, a fine, caning, or a combination of these punishments.


7. Penalties For Outrage Of Modesty Committed In Lifts, Or Voluntarily Causing Hurt, Wrongful Restraint, Or Death

If someone harms another, restrains them wrongly or causes their death while committing an outrage of modesty, the law, specifically Section 354A of the Penal Code, is very strict and clear.

It states that such persons can receive tougher outrage of modesty sentences, ranging from 2 to 10 years in prison and caning.

The law is even more severe in specific outrage of modesty cases in Singapore. For instance, if such acts are committed in a lift or the victim is below 14 years old, the minimum jail term is raised to 3 years.


8. Is Arrest Possible For Committing Outrage Of Modesty?

Absolutely. Committing an outrage of modesty in Singapore is very serious and is considered an arrestable offence. This means someone suspected of committing such an act can be arrested immediately without a warrant.

If the offence is more severe, known as an aggravated outrage of modesty, it then falls to either the police or the Court to decide whether the accused person can be released on bail or personal bond.

So, if someone has committed outrage of modesty, they might have the option to be released on bail, but if the crime is more severe, it’s not guaranteed, and the authorities make the decision.

This reflects the stringent measures in place regarding outrage of modesty punishment and sentences in Singapore to ensure the safety and well-being of the public.

If you have been charged with outrage of modesty, you must engage an experienced lawyer for legal advice on how to proceed with your case. You may book a free consultation with us today.


9. Can Your Criminal Record For Outrage Of Modesty Be Wiped Clean?

Having a criminal record for outrage of modesty expunged is challenging and is generally contingent on the legal provisions and policies prevailing at the time of the request.

It usually requires a comprehensive evaluation of the individual’s subsequent behaviour, rehabilitation, and the circumstances surrounding the offence.


Conclusion About Outrage Of Modesty

Outrage of modesty in Singapore is a grave matter, attracting serious legal consequences to protect the dignity and rights of individuals. Whether it is understanding the intricate definitions or the stringent legal repercussions, it is imperative to navigate this aspect of Singaporean law with caution and awareness.

Should you find yourself entangled in such matters, either as a victim or an accused, seeking immediate legal representation is crucial. You can book a free consultation with  Singaporean Family Lawyer today, and our team will provide legal advice and help protect your rights.


Frequently Asked Questions About Outrage of Modesty

Can Outrage Of Modesty Be Committed Against A Male Person?

Yes, outrage of modesty can be committed against any individual, regardless of gender. Males and females can be victims of such acts, and the law provides equal protection to all.

What Is Another Word For Outrage Of Modesty?

Another term commonly used for outrage of modesty is molestation. This term is often used interchangeably to describe acts that violate an individual’s personal boundaries or dignity, usually in a sexual manner.

Can Women Be Convicted Of Outrage Of Modesty?

Absolutely. Women can also be found guilty of committing outrage of modesty if they engage in acts that are determined to violate another person’s dignity or personal boundaries. The law is gender-neutral in this respect.

Will An Offence Be Committed If The Victim Consented To The Act?

If there is clear, unequivocal, and voluntary consent from all parties involved, then typically, no offence of outrage of modesty is committed. However, the validity of consent can be complex and might be subject to legal scrutiny depending on the circumstances.

Can A Family Member Commit Outrage Of Modesty?

Yes, a family member can be accused of committing outrage of modesty. Legal consequences can apply regardless of the familial relationship and the law does not exempt family members from such.

About the author

About the author

Jonathan Wong

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.