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Women's Charter

Topic(s): Women Empowerment

Enacted in 1961, the Women’s Charter enshrined the protection of women in Singapore and defined the institution of family by legislating monogamy for civil marriages. It also spells out the provisions relating to

  • Solemnisation of marriages

  • Registration and dissolution of civil marriages

  • Rights and duties of married persons

  • Maintenance of wives and children

  • Protection of family and

  • Penalties for offences against women and girls.

The Women's Charter (Amendment) Bill 2019

The Women’s Charter was amended in November 2019 to impose tougher penalties on human traffickers.

The amendments aim to:

  • Enhance protection for victims of trafficking and prostitution through enhancing penalties

  • Target the irresponsible lease of premises to prevent them from being used for vice activities and

  • strengthen law enforcement against vice syndicates that organise and facilitate prostitution, especially those operating through online means

For More Info

Second Reading of the Women’s Charter (Amendment) Bill 2019 – Speech by Ms Sun Xueling, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of National Development

The Women’s Charter (Amendment) Bill 2016

The Women’s Charter (Amendment) Bill was passed in Parliament in February 2016. The Charter was reviewed to reflect the changing family trends in Singapore.

Key amendments to the Women’s Charter (Registration of Marriage) Rules and the Women’s Charter are outlined here. In summary, the amendments to the Women’s Charter are expected to:

  • help support younger couples in their transition into married life and parenthood

  • better protect the interest of children affected by their parents’ divorce

  • allow incapacitated husbands and ex-husbands to apply for spousal maintenance where there is a clear need

  • void marriages of convenience

  • better support vulnerable persons in family violence and crisis situations and

  • strengthen law enforcement against online vice.

For More Info

The Penal Code

The Penal Code consolidates the general principles of Singapore’s law relating to criminal offences, which include (but are not exhaustive of):

  • Assault

  • Criminal intimidation

  • Mischief

  • Grievous hurt

  • Theft

  • Extortion

  • Sex crimes and

  • Cheating

Penal Code (Amendment) 2019

In May 2019, Parliament passed the Criminal Law Reform Act and the provisions came into effect on 1 Jan 2020.Key amendments to enhance the protection of women include:

  • The repeal of marital immunity for rape

  • Enhancement of punishments for offenders who commit intimate partner violence and

  • New offences to criminalise various technology-related sexual offences.

For More Info

Protection from Harassment Act (POHA)

POHA was enacted in November 2014 to protect all persons from harassment, stalking, cyber-bullying, and other anti-social and undesirable behaviours. Under POHA, it is an offence to, through words or behaviours:

  • Intentionally cause harassment, alarm, or distress

  • Intentionally cause fear or provocation of violence

  • Unlawfully stalk a person or

  • Carry out doxxing

POHA Amendment (2019)

POHA was amended in 2019 to strengthen the range of self-help measures, civil remedies and criminal sanctions to better protect women from harassment and related anti-social behaviour, such as cyber bullying, stalking and sexual harassment.

For More Info

MinLaw Press Release on ‘Enhancements to the Protection from Harassment Act (“POHA”)’ on 1 Apr 2019