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Singaporean woman acquitted of sexual assault, prosecution to appeal

by April 19, 2016 General

Singapore's Supreme Court. — TODAY picSingapore’s Supreme Court. — TODAY picSINGAPORE, April 19 — The prosecution will be appealing the decision of a High Court judge who ruled that women cannot be charged with the offence of sexual penetration of minors — a decision that resulted in a woman being acquitted of six charges brought against her.

In a media statement issued yesterday, the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) said the ruling on the statute in question — Section 376A(1)(b) of the Penal Code —  is a matter of “public interest”.

The case in question involved Zunika Ahmad, 40, who was charged with 20 counts of sexually penetrating a teenage girl with a dildo on several occasions in a span of more than 20 months. 

Zunika, who was born a woman but has identified as a man since her teens, had pleaded guilty to six of these charges, with the remaining counts to be taken into consideration for sentencing.

But her guilty plea to these charges were rejected by Senior Judge Kan Ting Chiu, who found that the choice of words for the statute would reasonably indicate that it was intended to apply only to male offenders.

“The reference to a person who has a penis cannot be construed to include a woman without doing violence to common sense and anatomy,” the judge had said.

Zunika was convicted of a separate charge of sexual exploitation under the Children and Young Persons Act and sentenced to eight months’ jail.

In its statement, the AGC noted that the prosecution had argued that the statute “was clearly intended by Parliament to be gender-neutral”, by setting out its legislative history.

“The prosecution had also submitted that an analysis of the wording of Section 376A(1)(b) in the context of the Penal Code as a whole showed that the provision was clearly intended to apply to both male and female accused persons,” the AGC added. 

Having reviewed the written grounds of decision, “the prosecution has concluded that an appeal is merited against Senior Judge Kan’s finding (on Section 376A(1)(b))”.

The prosecution is also appealing against the decision to set aside Zunika’s plea of guilt and the order of acquittal of the six relevant charges, as well as the sentence imposed on the sexual exploitation charge. — TODAY