In Singapore, girls aged between 12 and 14 are considered victims of statutory rape. Cases involving girls below the age of 12 are investigated as rape. Offenders can be jailed for up to 20 years, and fined or caned.
Under the Women’s Charter, sex with a girl aged above 14 but below 16 is termed ‘carnal connection’. If found guilty, offenders can be jailed for up to five years and fined up to $10,000 for this crime. While females are the majority of victims in underage sex cases here, the law has been amended to protect males as well.
The latest police figures show that 310 girls below the age of 16 were caught engaging in underage consensual sex last year – nearly 45per cent more than the year before. Put against the number from five years ago – 163 – the jump is even starker. In most cases, these boys are also teenagers, though they are sometimes in their 20s or even 30s. There was jump in the number of statutory rape cases – from nine in 2003 to 63 last year.
Of 721 children screened by counsellors after their parents had sought beyond parental control orders last year, nearly a quarter, or 171, were found to have already experienced sex in one form or another.
A survey carried out last year by the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) among 500 girls under 16 indicated that a majority of these girls were seeking emotional fulfilment rather than a physical connection; some felt compelled to give in to the demands of their partners to prove their love.
The survey revealed that the two main reasons for having sex were a desire for a closer connection with their boyfriend and being pressured by their boyfriend into giving themselves.
A study on young people’s awareness and usage of contraception commissioned last July by drug company Bayer Schering Pharma found that about three in 10 of the 240 respondents had had sex, but only 54per cent had used contraceptives. One in six believed that urinating or exercising after sex would prevent pregnancy.