Forum: Rehab as important as punishment

Student Yin Zi Qin was sentenced last Friday to a short detention order of 12 days and 80 hours of community service. Many observers have criticised the outcome of the case, believing the punishment was disproportionate to the offence. ST PHOTO: WONG
Student Yin Zi Qin was sentenced last Friday to a short detention order of 12 days and 80 hours of community service. Many observers have criticised the outcome of the case, believing the punishment was disproportionate to the offence. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

The sentencing of National University of Singapore (NUS) dentistry student Yin Zi Qin, who tried to strangle his former girlfriend, has received much attention and was widely discussed.

The Singapore Association of Social Workers is familiar with such cases as we often work with clients affected by the issues of violence against women and intimate partner violence, and we would like to air our views on the matter (MHA to review penalty framework in cases similar to that of NUS student, July 22).

Intimate partner violence must be treated very seriously, and there should be greater awareness of the issues, including the underlying factors which support them.

There is an urgent need to educate Singaporeans of all backgrounds and address the underlying attitudes that condone violence within the familial and intimate partner settings, the attitudes towards women in our culture and the objectification of women in our society.

Also, it is crucial to teach consent and skills of emotional regulation from a young age.

We urge anyone experiencing intimate partner abuse to seek help from a nearby Family Service Centre or a Family Violence Specialist Centre, to get support and to help keep themselves safe from a potentially escalating situation. This may also help mitigate the abuser's violent behaviour.

Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam has announced that the legal policy framework will be reviewed. We urge for one that will be fair and balanced to people of all status. The law exists to ensure safety of all people, and to maintain order.

There is certainly the need to focus on penalty to prevent offenders from committing crimes again.

However, rehabilitation is just as important, as the process of reintegration into society needs to be a smooth one to ensure offenders can be accepted after they have served their sentence.

Long Chey May

President

Singapore Association of Social Workers

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 31, 2020, with the headline 'Rehab as important as punishment'. Print Edition | Subscribe