Mum saw son sexually assaulting his sister, then 12, but failed to protect her from further abuse

Nadine Chua
The Straits Times
January 16, 2024

A mother who witnessed her son sexually assaulting her then 12-year-old daughter in their flat did not report it to the police and merely reminded him that the girl was his younger sister.

When the girl later got pregnant, the mother, who feared that the baby was her son’s, took her to Malaysia to try and get an abortion.

On Jan 16, the woman, 45, pleaded guilty to three charges, including two under the Children and Young Persons Act. She is expected to be sentenced on Feb 22.

The woman and other parties linked to this case cannot be named due to a gag order to protect the daughter’s identity.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Niranjan Ranjakunalan said the woman, her son – who is referred to as B2 in court documents – and her daughter, were living together in a two-room flat. The woman and the girl’s father are divorced.

In 2010, the mother walked into the kitchen in their flat and saw her son, who was then 13, and her daughter, then five years old, naked. She asked her son what he was doing, but he did not respond. She later told him that the girl is his younger sister and that he “should not do such a thing to her”.

Some time that same year, the victim was taking an afternoon nap in the flat while B2 was watching pornographic videos on the computer. Feeling aroused, he approached his sister and sexually abused her.

Later that day, the mother saw stains on her daughter’s panties while she was showering her and asked her son if he had sexually abused his sister. When he denied this, the mother again reminded him that the girl is his younger sister and that he “cannot do such a thing to her”.

The prosecution said that despite knowing as early as 2010 that B2 was sexually abusing his sister, and that she was at risk of further sexual abuse by her brother, the mother failed to take steps to protect her daughter from that risk.

She also did not regularly check with B2 and her daughter on whether her son had stopped the sexual abuse, and did not ensure that the siblings do not share a bed, added the DPP.

In fact, in 2017, the mother told her son, who was 20 years old then, to sleep on the same bed as her daughter, who was 12.

That same year, B2 committed statutory rape against his sister in the flat. While he was sexually assaulting her, the mother woke up from her sleep, lifted the blanket and saw her son on top of her daughter.

The mother asked her son what he was doing, but he did not answer. She then reminded B2 that the girl was his younger sister.

Later that year, B2 committed statutory rape against the victim while their mother was sleeping in the same room.

Shortly after, the siblings got into an argument, which woke their mother up. When she saw them together, she reminded B2 again that the girl was his younger sister and asked if he was not afraid of the consequences.

The offences came to light when the girl missed her period in October and November 2017. The mother got her daughter to take a home pregnancy test and realised she was pregnant.

She asked B2 if he had done anything to the victim, adding that she hoped he was not the father of the baby. B2 did not reply to this.

The mother subsequently took the victim to a clinic to confirm the pregnancy. She was advised to lodge a police report and take her daughter to the hospital for a full examination, but she did not do so as she was afraid her son would be arrested.

Instead, the mother took the girl to a clinic in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, for an abortion. When the doctor declined to perform the abortion as the foetus was more than eight weeks old, the mother decided that the daughter would keep the baby. 

In January 2018, when the girl did not turn up for school several times, the school contacted the mother, who claimed her daughter was unwell and requested that she be withdrawn from school.

When the school said it needed a doctor’s letter confirming that the victim was not well enough to attend school, the mother admitted that the girl was pregnant and that her brother was the baby’s father.

The school informed the Ministry of Social and Family Development’s Child Protective Service, and a police report was lodged.

The DPP said the girl’s pregnancy was terminated in February 2018, and that further investigations, including a paternity test, revealed that the biological father of the foetus was not B2, but someone else referred to as B3.

B3’s age was not revealed in court, but the prosecution said the victim met him online in 2017, and her sexualisation as a result of her repeated sexual activity with B2 contributed to her engaging in sexual acts with B3.

B3 was sentenced to eight years’ jail and six strokes of the cane for his offences, including having sex with the girl when she was below 14 years old.

For his offences such as statutory rape, B2, a diagnosed paedophile, was sentenced to 11½ years’ jail and seven strokes of the cane.

Seeking four to five years’ jail for the mother, DPP Niranjan said it was an egregious breach of trust on the mother’s part, and noted that she took active steps to evade detection of the crimes.

The DPP said the proposed sentence “is commensurate with the gravity of the accused’s offences and signals society’s disapprobation of a parent’s failure to protect her own child from serious sexual abuse”.

Defence lawyer Cory Wong sought not more than 36 months’ jail for his client, noting that she was born into a dysfunctional family and was herself a sexual assault victim when she was 13.

Gesturing to the filled seats in the courtroom, he told the judge that her family and relatives, including her daughter, turned up to show their support.

The defence lawyer added: “(We hope) this case does not leave behind an immutable thorn in this mother-child bond, at least from (my client’s) daughter’s perspective.”

The Straits Times

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