Thursday, December 24, 2009

BREAKING: More women say: I deserve justice by my own terms, I'm worth it.

[Ed - This post may be read in conjunction with "Investigating and prosecuting sexual offences" and "Addenda and Clarifications".]

No, that's not really what was said. Instead, what we have today is "More women say: touch me, pay me".

ST tag: 'MEN who find themselves accused of molest after a drunken bout of revelry are paying more to settle the cases. In one case, a businessman paid $50,000 to a woman who accused him of touching her buttocks in order to avoid prosecution. Lawyers told The Straits Times that they are seeing more cases, and the amounts have also risen significantly. The trend is worrying them as it might lead to the system being abused.'
(Image scanned from Straits Times, 24 December 2009, P A10.
Hover for ST Online image tag.)

Indeed, in its neverending quest to introduce insightful and/or exciting journalism and opinion FAIL to readers, The New Paper The Straits Times decides to play the wildly popular Womenz Iz Hysterically Wily, Money-Grubbing card. This Christmas Eve Special Edition comes complete with resplendent trimmings of a mood picture; spanning half a broadsheet, it really conveys our humanity's eternal battle of the sexes--men dodging women scorned, rational reason vs irrational emotion, advancing dude vs his coy mistress.

You can read the whole art-icle after the cut, but here's my male, unfeminist, pigheaded summary in pointed fashion:
  • Opening hook: Honorable Professional (engineer) claims to have paid 8K out-of-court settlement to 23 year-old woman who accused him of molesting her in a club.

  • Lawyers claim that more cases of molestation have come up and are settled out of court, and -gasp- defendants are paying "more cash" as well.

  • Worries that milking men with molestation claims has become a full-time occupation by Wily Womenz. (I kid, though not really.)

  • Not one, not two, but SIXXXXXX lawyers corroborate that drunk men are being accused by women in their early 20s (because early 20s need money, yo, for erm.... Their Louis Vuitton up-keeping?!?) of molestation!

  • Men claim to settle "to avoid the saga", even though they're drunk and don't actually remember manhandling the plaintiffs.

  • Accusations normally happen in the wee hours of the morning, and accused are normally alone.

  • Local lawyer-cum-clairvoyant Subhas Anandan "believes that there are so-called 'victims' out there trying to make easy money".

  • Local arbiter of modesty-to-cash exchange rates cum lawyer, Radakrishnan said some compensatory sums are "extortionate sums of between $20,000 and $50,000".

  • All examples accused are of Nice Guys™, decent, high-profile/ paying Honorable Profession, like engineer, CEO of listed company, dentist, OBGY, etc.

  • Lawyers want a registry of victims to be set up, so that "it's not the same people who make these claims" as gatekeeper and local Batman-of-molestation-crimes-cum-lawyer Ravinderpal Singh will ensure that women who get molested once will be personally protected from ever being sexually assaulted again.

  • Divination Masters cum lawyers opine that The Real Victims are usually those who [a] don't want money, [b] demand public apology, and/or [c] "insist on their day in court, no matter what".
The world in which Straits Times resides, is sadly empty of barnyard realities of women such as: women in their early 20s being an immensely big demographic of club-goers; the key demographic of club-goers (not to mention, young women) may naturally receive the most inappropriate attention from people; they may not take your being abused without a fight because they know better or want to stand up for themselves; they may naturally be the most reported victims of abuse; young (or old) women may possess the right to determine for themselves what is appropriate or inappropriate social contact, bodily or otherwise, from anyone; they may also possess the spirit of confidence, self-esteem, sense of justice and self-worth, to decide *she* deserves high reparations for her outraged modesty; she can decide for herself whether or not she wants to bring her perpetrator to court or seek compensatory justice equivocal to her sense of self-worth; a compensated victim of molest, sexual assault, abuse, violence is not impervious to repeated attacks.

In the world in which Straits Times resides, drunk men who don't remember if they behaved badly are given the benefit of the doubt because they're estimable men of great professions (freed any child rapists lately, yo?), and were just reduced to boys behaving as boys. (Drunk women, on the other hand, are obviously just asking for it.) And any woman who would put a high price to her abuse because she highly values her personhood is... erm... a victim of her own self-esteem, worth, and sense of justice.

In this very sad world outside of the barn, women remain the sex class whose bodily ownership must always be within reach of men's favour.


From The Malaysian Insider:

DEC 24 — The engineer, 36, was cutting his way across the dance floor of a Clarke Quay club earlier this year when a 23-year-old woman accused him of touching her buttocks.

The bouncers stepped in. The police showed up. And though he claimed he did not touch the woman, he ended up paying S$8,000 (RM19,508) to settle the case.

“I didn’t want trouble and I didn’t know what my company and wife would think if they found out,” he said in an e-mail reply to The Straits Times. “That was my only way out.”

Under the law, certain criminal offences such as simple molestation cases, wrongful restraint and causing hurt can be settled out of court if the victim agrees to drop the matter in return for some form of compensation. An offender who has had his offence compounded will not have a criminal record.

But lawyers interviewed said that increasingly, they are seeing more men like the engineer seeking help for molestation charges and paying more cash to compound their cases.

This has prompted concerns among the legal fraternity that the system could be abused by women looking for pay-outs by making false accusations and men who might be getting off the hook by paying off their victims.

At least six lawyers interviewed said that they are seeing a pattern of drunk men being accused by women in their early 20s for molesting them in clubs.

According to police records, there were 110 cases of outrage of modesty in nightspots reported last year, about the same number as the year before. In the first nine months of this year, there were 72 such cases.

But the number does not show whether some of these cases have been compounded, as both the police and the Subordinate Courts say they do not keep such records.

Lawyer Chia Boon Teck handled five such cases in the last three months.

“The men are drunk, don’t remember anything and have no defence against them,” he said. “To avoid the whole saga, they’d rather just pay.”

Lawyer Amolat Singh, who handled four such cases in the last six months, said that the incidents happened mostly in clubs in the wee hours of the morning. The accused men were usually alone.

Lawyer Subhas Anandan, recalling a case involving a director of a public listed company, believes that there are so-called “victims” out there trying to make easy money.

He said that the director was in a club, on his way to get drinks when he stopped to talk to some women. Soon, some men approached him, accusing him of molesting the girls. To avoid public scrutiny, he paid the girl S$5,000 to settle the case.

“I was convinced he was set up, I also handled another three cases where it was the same modus operandi,” Subhas said. “If it’s a reasonable sum, most guys will just pay. If it goes to trial, it’ll be even more in legal fees.”

Lawyers also noticed that the compensation amounts have risen, from the average S$1,000 to S$2,000 some years ago, to above $5,000 these days.

Lawyer S. Radakrishnan, who has handled seven compounded molestation cases in the last year, said that some victims are now asking extortionate sums of between S$20,000 and S$50,000.

“It bothers me because they know that the accused are scared to go to court and don’t want their families to know,” he said, adding that the highest amount he has personally handled is a S$20,000 case.

Subhas, who once helped a client claim S$25,000 in compensation from a dentist who allegedly touched her breasts, said the sums paid out depend on the severity of the offence and also the ability of the man to pay.

One case that is a talking point among lawyers is that of a 48-year-old obstetrician-gynaecologist who last year paid a woman S$51,000 after he was accused of touching her breasts, abdomen and thigh.

National University of Singapore law professor Michael Hor said that the system could be abused in two ways.

A man of means committing a series of outrages of modesty could “buy” himself out of prosecution, for example. Alternatively, a calculating victim could try to extract unreasonably large sums of money in exchange for not going to trial.

The lawyers want a registry of victims who have agreed to compound their cases to be set up, to stop any kind of abuse.

“If we keep a record, we can make sure that it’s not the same people who make these claims,” said lawyer Ravinderpal Singh, who handles about five molestation cases a year.

Prof Hor thinks the list of compoundable offences could exclude cases of outrage of modesty.

Some also suggested that a compensation cap be implemented.

Lawyers interviewed said that not all victims want money. Some demand an apology — in court or published in the newspapers. Others want a donation made in their name to a charity.

There are also those who insist on their day in court, no matter what.

These are usually the real victims, lawyers say. — The Straits Times


  1. "These are usually the real victims, lawyers say."

    And these lawyers know this how? Because they are Magically hovering about every woman in every night club at every moment?

    The whole article is a pile of bullshit but one thing which especially gets my wattle wound up is the fucking picture. The article oozes insinuations about lying women who make up claims while the picture depicts a clear-cut case of sexual assault - she's pushing him away.

    Another day, another equation of women's assertions of bodily integrity with the conniving and mercenary scheming of evil bitchez.

    Fuck you, rape culture.

  2. Actually, I thought it was a rather balanced article, and the forest may have been missed for some trees.

    IMHO, the crux of the article (or its thesis) is contained within these lines:

    "A man of means committing a series of outrages of modesty could 'buy' himself out of prosecution, for example. Alternatively, a calculating victim could try to extract unreasonably large sums of money in exchange for not going to trial."

    In light of this, I feel the article is doing justice to Justice by ensuring that the law is not undermined because of a possible loophole in the system that women *and* men can exploit.

    Your thoughts?

  3. Howdy Laremy!

    Thanks for dropping by and for your thoughts.

    On the farm, we like to let women decide how they wish to seek justice, especially since OM cases can be settled out of court. Prof Mike Hor's suggestion of directing OM to the court is open to substantive debate. Is this the point you wish to discuss?

    Setting Hor's suggestion aside, I personally don't think it's particularly outrageous for anyone to seek justice in composition, even if it's 20 gazillion dollars. (There're good reasons to avoid going to trial, see Poultrygeist's post on persecutory hurdles, and if you have time, see Melissa McEwan's "Her Reasons Are Not Yours".) I think everyone should be able to determine their personal worth, and if perps don't wish to be *entrapped* or find out just how horrible the penalty is for assaulting people, then maybe they can learn to respect all people, and keep their hands and other appendages to themselves unless specifically solicited.

    (See "Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work".)

    Also, despite your personal perceptiveness in reading the article, I don't think BDP is too far off in his critique of the tonality of the piece that goes beyond just that paragraph of grace. I stand with BDP on this, and am also against the perpetuation of the conniving woman myth that gets enough ringing in our media and minds as it is.

    As Cat in the Cream commented elsewhere: "That this is a farce should be obvious to even the most casual reader if not for the fact that it reiterates tropes about conniving women and upstanding men.

    "Men, who have the money, reserving the money for good, chaste women, get tricked out of this money by the evil hordes of women who are sluts (not that the good men have any part in wanton sex acts with these women)."

    My 2¢.

    Barny Christmas to you! :)

  4. (I hope this isn't a double-comment, Blogger ate my first.)

    I just want to say: registry. What.

    My brain stopped at that.

    "You must have been doing something to provoke him. How terrible. I'm so sorry, but you were asking for it. Anyway, we're going to put your name on a national database and insist you submit yourself to interrogation in court. Then everyone can be pleasant to you as I have been. You don't want this? Too bad, then, you're not a real victim."

    Registry. WTF.

  5. Hey Laremy,

    I don't think the article was thoroughly researched and properly reported for 2 reasons:

    1. the reporter in choosing to only interview the "aggresor" and several lawyers, has failed to obtain the view of any women who have been involved in these sort of incidents. This is unbalanced and really shows the lack of journalistic maturity in reporting.

    2. the ST constantly gets soundbites from the same lawyers over and over again on varying issues. Really? there are about 500 practising lawyers out there. is Mr. amolat singh the authority on every legal issue in Singapore today?

    - The Poultrygeist

  6. @Beka - The mind boggles!!!

    @Laremy - As MC, FP and TP have suggested, whatever thesis you perceive in this article has been lost to sensationalism and speciousness for me. In fact, the thesis seems either lost, or but merely means to the end of victim-blaming. I'm also not convinced by the strength of the thesis you highlighted in this reporting for reasons expressed by the few of us here on the various realities we understand of the law, club culture, social treatment of women, media narratives, etc, etc, etc.

    I hope someone sends a letter in to ST soon.

    - BDP

  7. Laremy, the article might state that men who commit sexual assault could 'buy' themselves out of prosecution, but it also hammers in again and again the idea that unless women conform to one kind of response, they weren't 'really' sexually assaulted at all. The net message is one of immense scepticism to the reality of sexual assault to begin with, by putting all complaints of sexual assault under suspicion unless they conform to (ever more-elastic: please read this before commenting further) standards of 'good victimhood'.

    Aside from the picture, there's the headline itself, which totally mischaracterises the situation. Women asking for compensation for sexual assault are emphatically NOT saying "touch me, pay me". They said "Don't touch me. DON'T TOUCH ME. Okay you fucker, you touched me, now justice has to be done." The headline is basically trying tp link them, in the reader's mind, with sex workers, and thereby call upon a host of prejudices that people have about sex workers and their personal boundaries deserving no respect because they are 'for sale'. This is also why there is such an emphasis on the standard to which 'real victims' must conform: so that any woman who feels she would rather have compensation that undergo testifying in court (where she would be interrogated and shamed) can... well, can be interrogated and shamed for not wanting to go to court.

    This is all about interrogating and shaming women who dare to assert our bodily integrity.

    I repeat: fuck you, rape culture.

  8. Beka, yes, the registry aspect really tips this into the realm of the farcical. We need to make our victim-shaming administratively easier! There's also the rather sickening symmetry with sex offender registries... I wouldn't be surprised if that is intentional.

  9. (In case it wasn't clear the first time round. I realise I can be imprecise.)

    The ST Tag accompanying their illustration at ST Online: "MEN who find themselves accused of molest after a drunken bout of revelry are paying more to settle the cases. In one case, a businessman paid $50,000 to a woman who accused him of touching her buttocks in order to avoid prosecution. Lawyers told The Straits Times that they are seeing more cases, and the amounts have also risen significantly. The trend is worrying them as it might lead to the system being abused."

    On top of which, the accompanying inset piece makes an example of a motorist-assault case where the defendant was fined 1K instead of his offer of a 7.5K compound, as if to suggest that the 7.5K deal is unreasonable since a 1K fine would have obviously sufficed.

    The thesis is much less noble than Laremy's reading above.; it's saying that it's ridiculous that any woman should be awarded so much money for a mere touch. And I know what's going on in many a people's heads, "Cheaper to go to Geylang, right?"

    - BDP

  10. @MC - "There's also the rather sickening symmetry with sex offender registries... I wouldn't be surprised if that is intentional."

    Ditto! Had the same thought.

  11. Hi everyone,

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    I tried to digest everyone's responses and I apologise if I cannot distill all the ideas into a coherent thread.

    First, I would say I agree with The Poultrygeist quite a bit. It is only fair to interview the women of the story, but their voices are suspiciously silent.

    Second, I also agree that the picture was a bad choice, and the way the headline was angled does contribute to the problem of the "perpetuation of the conniving woman myth".

    In this instance, the paper must adopt some form of social responsibility by being more aware of nuance and meaning as suggested through graphics and framing.

    Last but not least, the thesis of the article might have been lost in translation, from the editing of the article to its eventual publication. The sensationalising of the article definitely does not help matters.

    Nevertheless, the article does demonstrate that OM, whether alleged or actual, affects both women and men. Perhaps this should be acknowledged at some point in the blogpost?

    P.S. It'd be nice if one of you took turns to play Devil's Advocate... Otherwise, discussions might turn into a 'chorus' in all senses of the word!

    Merry Christmas and thanks for posting up much fodder for thought :)

  12. Nevertheless, the article does demonstrate that OM, whether alleged or actual, affects both women and men. Perhaps this should be acknowledged at some point in the blogpost?

    It's extremely unclear what you're saying, or claiming that the article is saying. The Straits Times article is essentially entirely about Conniving Bitchez Scheming to Make Men Suffer. By suggesting that it is somehow about how the offence of outrage of modesty "affects both women and men", it seems to me your statement is conflating these Conniving Bitchez with actual sexual assault again. Which is what I - at least - am arguing against. So what exactly is it you think "should be acknowledged"?

    False accusations in the case of criminal offences might be interesting to discuss at some point. This article - being soaked irretrievably in rape culture - is not, in my opinion, a good launching point for doing so. What it is is a great launching point for discussing rape culture. As we are doing. I think a discussion of rape culture is valuable enough to have in and of itself - don't you?

    P.S. It'd be nice if one of you took turns to play Devil's Advocate... Otherwise, discussions might turn into a 'chorus' in all senses of the word!

    Speaking for myself only, I have no time for devil's advocacy. Our perspectives should consider all angles, but those angles which are grounded primarily in hatred and prejudice do not need extensive airing or mimicking us. As a basic reading of Barnyard Chorus shows, there's a whole world of people busy propagating bigotry and narrow-mindedness out there. By refuting it, we are inherently providing balance. There's no need for us to ventriloquise hateful and prejudiced views ourselves.

  13. Really late to the conversation (as usual) but the way I see it is that we're a chorus against the status quo.

    Charitable readings of articles like this is the norm and is how the average person would see it. This being the case, we do not have to argue for this viewpoint because it is already well represented in the general population and practically celebrated by mainstream media (and really, in some not-so-mainstream places as well).

    I see your point, Laremy, about not existing in an echo chamber, and it's an important goal to have. While us gathered here at the Barn have a similar outlook, that outlook is one of questioning the status quo and advocating against what is otherwise widely accepted and acceptable.

    We are the devil's advocates here. The voices we advocate against are already well represented.

  14. @Laremy -

    It'll probably bore you, but I'll echo MC and CitC on the point of playing devil's advocate. Adding to which, I personally don't think all alternative views, for the sake of seeking some mythically good balanced argument, are actually valid.

    I get that you remain convinced--and good for you too--that the central point is about false accusations that escalate men's suffering. My post doesn't address that because it's not the main problem for me in this article. The omission of the point mustn't be taken to suggest I don't think your point has validity. Both FP and MC have acknowledged that this is open to debate, but I don't think it detracts from the main content of my post.

    You are always welcome to offer your version of devil's advocacy or angle for balance, if you feel strongly about it, as you've done here. Though whether or not all of us will entertain you, is a wholly separate matter :) (But we've so far been quite nice, right?)

    - BDP

  15. I just find it regrettable that the only objective viewpoint - Prof Hor's statement that the law as it stands is open to abuse by any party - seems to have been an afterthought. It's insertion at the end of the article makes it immediately forgettable, which is a crying shame!

    I think the point the others are trying to make concerns the manner in which the article was framed, which automatically insinuates (well, quite blatantly) that women are out for a quick buck by randomly accusing men of molest.

    The ST was quick to call this a "trend". Really, you can't glean any truth from the reporting because none of these matters (all anecdotal, from the lawyers) went to trial. It's just his word against hers.

    It just seems to me to be an easy excuse to not admit that it may have happened, given the context of a nightclub.

    - The Poultrygeist


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