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MSF looks to enhance support for victims of abuse from live-in partners

Monday, December 7, 2015 - 10:52
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THE Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) said on Monday it would raise support for victims of abuse from live-in partners, though cohabitation remains outside the coverage of the Women's Charter.

THE Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) said on Monday it would raise support for victims of abuse from live-in partners, though cohabitation remains outside the coverage of the Women's Charter.

This comes as it said public feedback has mostly backed proposed amendments to the Women's Charter that included a focus on children's interest first in divorce cases, and voiding marriages of convenience.

One specific suggestion was to extend personal protection orders, domestic exclusion orders and mandatory counselling orders to live-in partners.

"The government is sympathetic towards the plight of these victims," MSF said in a press statement. It said a cohabitee can seek protection under the provisions of the Penal Code and the Protection from Harassment Act.

Where there are children involved in the context of a cohabitating relationship, the child can be protected under the Children and Young Persons Act.

"MSF has considered including live-in partners within the coverage of the Women's Charter. However, doing so will affect how a family is defined and viewed by the larger society. This also has impact on other pieces of legislation which reference family and marriage," it noted. "Notwithstanding this, MSF is working with the relevant agencies and stakeholders to enhance support for victims."

The public favoured the mandatory parenting programme, through which the child's interest would be put first in a divorce. Parents would be put through the programme before filing for divorce. They also supported the proposal to void marriages of convenience, which is an offence under the Immigration Act.

MSF proposed that a husband or ex-husband be allowed to claim for maintenance if he is incapacitated by any physical or mental disability or illness, before or during the time of divorce, from earning a livelihood and is unable to maintain himself.

"On balance, MSF has assessed that for now, the proposed spousal maintenance for incapacitated men who cannot work and maintain themselves is appropriate for both men and women."

It stressed that the court will have to consider all the circumstances of the case, including a wife's financial circumstances and needs of the children, before ordering maintenance for a disabled husband or ex-husband.

The ministry received about 260 pieces of feedback from the public, it said. MSF also collected views from the Families for Life Council, the Singapore Council of Women's Organisations, the Association of Women for Action and Research and the Law Society of Singapore.

MSF has clarified that it received 260 pieces of feedback, not 26. 

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