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The Straits Times
October 2, 2023
A taxi driver who was the sole breadwinner of the family sexually assaulted his elder daughter repeatedly from the age of 12 until she was 15 years old, and warned her that the family would fall apart if she told anyone about what he did.
In 2018, after suffering in silence for three years, the girl was referred to a rape helpline and was advised to tell her mother about the incidents.
The mother confronted her husband over the sexual assaults, but it was only years later that the woman disclosed the matter to a friend, who reported the case to the authorities in 2022.
The victim, who blamed herself for the family breaking apart, was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and borderline personality disorder. She also tried to take her own life twice.
On Monday, the man, now 62, was sentenced to 21½ years’ jail by the High Court after he pleaded guilty to one charge of aggravated sexual assault by penetration and two charges of sexual assault by penetration.
The sentence included a one-year term imposed in lieu of caning, since the man is over 50 and cannot be caned.
Nine other charges, for various sexual offences against the victim, were taken into consideration during sentencing.
The man cannot be named owing to a gag order to protect the identity of the victim, who is now 19.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Emily Koh told the court that the offences took place between 2016 and 2018, in the flat that the victim shared with the accused, her mother and her younger sister.
The abuse began when the victim was in Secondary 1, when the man asked her to watch pornography with him.
He then began touching her inappropriately and progressed to increasingly intrusive acts.
The man emotionally manipulated his daughter into maintaining her silence by telling her that the family would fall apart if she were to disclose what he had done to her.
He also claimed that he was teaching her how to protect herself as he performed these acts on her.
She did not tell anyone about the assaults because the family depended on him financially.
In 2018, when the victim was in Secondary 3, she began to realise that what her father had been doing to her was wrong.
She eventually confided in a close friend, who referred the victim to the rape helpline. After calling the helpline, she told her mother about the assaults.
After being confronted by his wife, the man moved out of the flat.
In June 2021, the victim was admitted to Changi General Hospital (CGH) after a suicide attempt. She was transferred to the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) on June 30, 2021.
She was discharged from IMH on July 12, 2021, with follow-up appointments with her psychiatrist at CGH.
In her victim impact statement, she said she was “mentally affected” after the matter was reported to the police and blamed herself for the family falling apart.
On Feb 23, 2023, she attempted suicide again, and was taken to CGH.
The prosecutor argued that the accused had grossly abused his position as a father and showed planning and premeditation in his sexual abuse of the victim.
The man’s lawyer, Mr Sim Bing Wen, assigned under the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme, said his client knows that he has failed as a father, but hopes to be released in the distant future to give him time to make amends to his children.
Institute of Mental Health’s Mental Health Helpline: 6389-2222 (24 hours)
Samaritans of Singapore: 1800-221-4444 (24 hours) /1-767 (24 hours)
Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-283-7019
Silver Ribbon Singapore: 6386-1928
Tinkle Friend: 1800-274-4788
Chat, Centre of Excellence for Youth Mental Health: 6493-6500/1
Women’s Helpline (Aware): 1800-777-5555 (weekdays, 10am to 6pm)
Aware’s Sexual Assault Care Centre: 6779-0282 (weekdays, 10am to 6pm)
TOUCHline (Counselling): 1800-377-2252
TOUCH Care Line (for seniors, caregivers): 6804-6555
Care Corner Counselling Centre: 6353-1180
Counselling and Care Centre: 6536-6366