A once overlooked but now rising demographic
In the light of month after month of sexual harassment, vouyeurism and assault cases in the news, it appears that sexual assault cases on male persons are on the rise. Even recently, there has been a case involving a primary school vice-principal who had coerced an underage student into sexual acts since 2003. The victim, now an adult male, only alerted the incident to the police in 2015 after years of abuse. The perpetrator was sentenced to 10 years’ jail by the District Courts on 16 October 2019. On 8 October, another case involved a 67-year-old security guard molesting a 20-year-old student on the train. The security guard was sentenced to three weeks’ jail.
Aside from an increase in outrage of modesty cases, police data reveals that outrage of modesty cases for male victims have been rising, from 73 cases in 2009 to 125 in 2018. Similar readings were seen at the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE), where the Sexual Assault Care Centre (SACC) received an increase in requests for sexual harassment counselling from male victims, from 5 in 2016 to 14 in 2018. There is likewise an overall increase in male clients at the SACC, from 15 in 2016 to 37 in 2018.
More males speaking out
Head of SACC Anisha Joseph finds that more male victims are stepping out to report cases due to the #MeToo movement normalising discourse surrounding sexual harassment. Senior Clinical Psychologist at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) Fiona Tan notes that the knowledge of more reports on sexual assault would help more victims share their stories by reminding how sexual assault occurs across all demographics. It would also help to build upon existing data. The Singapore Police Force (SPF) have noted the increase, and will work with communities to stop more cases from occurring. Leow Yongfa of LGBT non-profit organisation Oogachaga claims that many male victims do not step out for fear of being ridiculed for not being masculine enough.
It should be clear by now, that sexual violence can occur to anyone.