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Sexual Grooming As an Offence in Singapore

S Chandra Mohan & Lee Yingqi

(2020) 32 SAcLJ 96

The offence of sexual grooming of a minor under 16 was introduced in the Singapore Penal Code (Cap 224, 2008 Rev Ed) in 2007. It was designed to protect the growing number of young Internet users from adult sex predators prowling the online platforms. However, there have been very few reported cases of sexual grooming under s 376E of the Penal Code and a noticeable dearth of any local legal comment on this provision. Until the review by the Penal Code Review Committee in 2018 and the consequent legislative changes in May 2019, the offence of sexual grooming has not received much public attention. This article seeks to examine the nature and rationale of the offence as provided in s 376E of the Penal Code, its origins and how the Singapore provision presently compares with that in the UK from where it was imported, and with similar provisions in Canada, Australia and neighbouring Malaysia. Finally, the article considers the recommendations of the Penal Code Review Committee and if the consequent 2019 amendments to s 376E and related sections prevent and punish online sex predators more effectively.