MARCH 5 — A few weeks ago, an Indonesian domestic helper working in Singapore was sentenced to 17 months’ jail for taking photographs and videos of the elderly man in her care while he was naked and sharing the images.
The helper had been asked to assist the elderly man with tasks such as showering as he was suffering from a severe illness that prevented him from looking after himself.
During her employment, the maid occasionally took photographs of the man in her care while he was naked and shared these photographs.
She shared one photograph of the man naked with her husband along with a message saying, “Salary 8 million (rupiah) (S$700 or RM2,329) but my job is hard, bathing the elderly.”
She also appears to have taken and shared other photographs and videos of the man where he was unclothed.
When the family she was working for discovered these videos, they alerted the police and criminal proceedings began against the woman.
Last week the court sentenced the helper to 17 months’ jail. She pleaded guilty to charges of voyeurism and distributing intimate images.
Now obviously sharing photos of the person in your care is a serious offence and the sentence for this was over a year.
The judge at sentencing noted that the helper’s offences were not premeditated nor sophisticated — she wasn’t trying to humiliate the man in question, just sharing her day-to-day work and routine with relatives.
I can’t help but contrast this to the case of the NTU student who was found guilty of filming a video of another female student while she was in a toilet stall.
The male student followed the woman to the toilet and attempted to film her but he was caught in the act and deleted the photos. He was sentenced to 15 days in jail.
While he did not succeed in his attempt to capture a video, he followed and spied on a woman with the intent to film her and invade her privacy for sexual gratification.
This strikes me as a non-trivial offence — but his sentence was comparatively light.
In another famous case, an NUS student admitted to taking upskirt videos of hundreds of female students and other women.
A huge amount of obscene and illicitly filmed material was found on his computers and he had shared this material with online communities. He received a 28-week jail sentence — far less than that of the helper.
Again that doesn’t constitute a defence of the helper’s actions — but surely the sentences for men who commit acts of voyeurism should reflect the severity of the crime.
The men who commit these offences look to humiliate, degrade and violate the dignity of their victims.
They do this for sexual gratification so I really don’t see why their sentences often seem comparatively light.
Male voyeurism is a serious problem and should be treated as such.
*This is the personal opinion of the columnist.