Voyeurism has traumatising consequences for victims, so how do we ensure justice is served?
On Friday (19 Apr), NUS student – Monica Baey – revealed that a fellow student allegedly filmed her in the shower.
Monica shares that she even obtained CCTV footage of the accused’s attempt to enter different toilets to take a video of her showering. Despite the evidence, she claims he got away with a 12-month conditional police warning, compulsory apology letter and short-term suspension.
Here’s our detailed coverage of the unfolding story, which could have a lasting impact on the laws of our land.
In a series of Instagram stories, Monica expressed her frustration with the justice system.
Monica had encountered a ‘Peeping Tom’ while she was showering at Eusoff Hall – one of six residential halls – at the National University of Singapore (NUS) about a year ago.
She made a police report immediately, but the verdict on the case has only recently been revealed.
To supplement the investigation, she obtained the video of her showering and the CCTV footage “of him trying to enter different toilets to find his victim”.
In the end, Monica claims her perpetrator got away with a warning from the police because she thinks that NUS wanted “to keep it quiet”.
Meanwhile, she has feared entering the toilet alone since and sometimes suffers from flashbacks of being filmed after the incident.
Since the trial was over and she felt that justice wasn’t served, she decided to speak out against the person who did this to her, sharing a screenshot of his Instagram profile.
Currently, his Instagram page has been taken down as of Saturday (20 Apr).
Her alleged perpetrator received a 12-month conditional warning, but Monica tried to appeal for a heavier sentence.
Instead, her investigating officer allegedly told her,
You just have to accept the outcome.
A conditional warning is given to accused individuals who have never been convicted of an offence before. Currently, the alleged perpetrator has been discharged, but that doesn’t amount to an acquittal.
Conditional warnings may stipulate a time period – such as 12 months in this incident -during which the accused should remain crime-free.
The officer also urged her to “go to NUS and push for action”, says Monica.
She was outraged that he would have the chance to commit “a crime” again, before he received any punishment. In contrast, she was traumatised by the incident and she wouldn’t be able to get a second chance at doing over that day.
NUS responded to the incident by sending a compulsory apology letter from the perpetrator, and giving him a suspension.
Monica sarcastically quipped that she felt “so much better”.
Here’s the letter in full:
We have transcribed it here:
I am ______ and I am writing this letter to formally apologise for my vile and inappropriate action that happened in Eusoff hall, on the final week of November and being on heavy alcoholic influence is no excuse at all. I am extremely ashamed of what I have done and I am so sorry to have traumatised you in such a manner, nobody should ever have to go through such a traumatic experience. I want to assure you that this will never happen to anyone else again, and I know actions speak louder than words. This incident has taught me an invaluable lesson and I will strive to be the best version of myself from here on. Of course I hope to seek your forgiveness, but I understand I am in no position to ask for anything and you have no obligation to even give me any form of closure. But I still want you to know that I am really sorry to have committed such an offence. I will be serving the sanctions mete(d) out by the university while bearing in mind to only improve as a person from here.
She was appalled that her perpetrator shared that he received an “invaluable lesson” and became a “better person” after “filming (her) showering”.
And that apology had been written at the behest of the school, and sent via an email proxy.
According to Monica, filming incidents in NUS have happened “so many f*cking times”.
She claims that incidents kept happening because perpetrators got away.
While she continues to live in fear, she hopes that NUS will take firmer action.
She wants students to know that secretly filming anyone without their express consent will not be tolerated and that NUS is serious about protecting its students.
Finally, Monica demanded for real change and harsher punishments to act as deterrents. She hopes that potential perpetrators will know that they will get punished fairly if they conduct themselves in unacceptable ways.
Other netizens soon joined the discussion about stricter punishments for cases of molestation or ‘Peeping Toms’ on campus.
Shiyuan (@teeasswhy) posted another Peeping Tom case from the same hall in NUS in 2017.
In this scenario, the student was kicked out from the hall, but continued schooling. He was eventually charged with molestation, after he used criminal force to molest another student.
Some users have instead urged Monica to let the incident go because the accused’s parents are allegedly “powerful”.
Others revealed that it’s 2019, so a “heinous crime” should have serious consequences.
This netizen responded by saying that such offences could ruin the perpetrator’s future.
She, however, believes that in her case, her voyeur chose to ruin his future by himself. If voyeurs had the “balls to do it”, they should be able to face the consequences.
Finally, one user pointed out that if a similar incident happened in the US, the “kid would be expelled SO fast”.
Monica’s supporters have flooded NUS’ Facebook page seeking firmer action against the male student.
A netizen was shocked that a public institution behaved in “a backward manner”.
If the incident was true, another alumni revealed that she was ashamed to tell people that she was a graduate.
We all know that the institution boasts of “changing the world”, but this netizen asks if more can be done to change “perverted students”?
A Peeping Tom case in Keat Hong Community Centre resulted in $1,500 fine for the culprit. This is the maximum amount available under our laws and the verdict was announced recently on 4 Apr 2019. Voyeurs can also be jailed up to 1 year in addition to the fine.
There have been plans to increase penalties for similar voyeuristic acts to a maximum of 2 to 5 years’ jail and/or fine and possible caning depending on the severity of the crime and age of the victims.
Whether the new amendments are passed, depends on the outcome of a Penal Code update this year.
Secretly filming another individual is a serious offence wherever and whenever it might be.
While some people do deserve a second chance to turn over a new leaf, we can understand why the current arrangement feels like a ‘slap on the wrist’.
In the future, if similar incidents take place, we hope that perpetrators don’t get away with a mere apology letter. Here’s to hoping that this never happens again.
Featured image from Instagram.
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