Rape & Sexual Assault

What is Rape

What is the legal definition of rape?

Under Singapore law, rape is committed when a man penetrates a woman’s vagina with his penis without her consent. S375(1), Penal Code.

Penetration of other body orifices is NOT Rape. Where a man penetrates a woman’s mouth or anus with his penis without her consent, he commits an offence known as unlawful sexual penetration. S376(1), Penal Code.

Both rape and unlawful sexual penetration are liable to the same penalty i.e. imprisonment for a term up to 20 years plus fine or caning. S375(2) and S376(4), Penal Code.

An exception to rape and unlawful sexual penetration is marital rape.


What does consent mean?

Consent must be consent to the penetration.

Where a person consents to meeting someone late at night, kissing, touching, dirty dancing or mutual masturbation but indicates that she does not want to have intercourse, there is, in law, no consent to penetration. However, it may be difficult to prove that there was no consent to penetration.

Also, consent can always be withdrawn at any time, so that any further sexual activity after the withdrawal of consent constitutes rape.


Must the victim show that the other party was violent or used force on her to indicate that there was no consent?

Objection need not be expressed, and may be implied from the context and from the relationship of the parties, but the absence of objection does not of itself constitute consent.

Lack of objection may result from fear of the perpetrator or an incapacity to object on the part of the victim i.e persons who are asleep, intoxicated or otherwise mentally unable to object.


Is it possible to be raped by one’s husband?

Under Singapore law, a man who forces his wife to have sex with him is not guilty of an offence unless:

  1. his wife was living apart from him under an interim judgment of divorce or written separation agreement or
  2. the couple are living apart and proceedings have been commenced for divorce or
  3. the wife has already obtained a protection order (PPO).

Marital rape is an exception to the offence of rape except in the cases stated above. However, a man who forces his wife to have sex may still be guilty of the following offences:

Voluntarily causing Hurt, S321, Penal Code
Voluntarily causing Grievious Hurt, S322, Penal Code
Wrongful Restraint S241, Penal Code


Can a man be a victim of rape?

No, a man cannot be a victim of rape as rape is narrowly defined under S375, Penal Code as the penile penetration of a vagina.


Can consent be given by a person who is intoxicated?

Under Singapore law, consent is not deemed to be given if the person is so intoxicated that she is unable to understand the nature and the consequence of what she is consenting to.

Would a man be guilt of an offence of rape or unlawful sexual penetration if the woman consents only to certain acts of intimacy but does not want full-blown sex? For example, if the woman has kissed him or has even taken her shirt off, can she be raped if she doesn’t want to go the whole way but he does?

Yes, an offence would be committed if the woman did not agree to penetration even if she agreed to acts of sexual intimacy, such as kissing and petting.

Also, a woman may have originally agreed to sex but she is also entitled to withdraw such consent. If the consent is withdrawn before the act of penetration occurred, the man may be guilty or rape or sexual penetration.

Many women think that just because they have said yes to kissing or petting, they are obliged to go all the way. This is not the case. Women have the right to say NO or STOP at any point.


Date Rape

Is it possible to be raped by a boyfriend or date?

Yes, it is possible. In fact, the majority of rape is committed by someone known to the victim. It does not matter whether the person is known to the victim, or whether the victim has had sex with the offender in the past. If the act was non-consensual, it constitutes rape.

Being in a romantic or intimate relationship with another party does not constitute consent to sexual intercourse in general for the duration of the relationship. There must be consent each time.

Is it possible that the victim was at fault because she wore sexy or revealing clothes or she was drunk?

No. Rape is never the fault of the victim/survivor who did not give consent to sexual intercourse.

It does not matter if the victim was drunk, wore a mini-skirt or was out alone at night. No one has the right to abuse someone else and no one has the right to rape another person.

The behaviour of the victim does not lessen the criminal culpability of the offender unless it constitutes consent to sexual intercourse.

For more information see Date Rape.