May 23, 2008

Caning As A Form of Punishment

ST May 23, 2008
25 Years 24 strokes
Man tries to retract his police statement but is convicted of raping stepdaughter
By Selina Lum

HE TOLD the police he did it.

He told a psychiatrist the same thing.

The 37-year-old IT specialist admitted to having had sex with his stepdaughter since she was 11, but that it had been consensual.

But when the case went to court, the Indian national changed his tune - insisting that there had been no sexual relations between them at all.

Yesterday, the High Court's decision was clear: He was guilty of all the charges brought against him for raping and having oral sex with the girl, now aged 14.

The Singapore permanent resident, who cannot be named to protect the girl's identity, was jailed for 25 years and ordered to be caned the maximum 24 strokes.
I have very little sympathy for child rapists. In my opinion, raping a child is just one of the most evil sorts of crimes possible.

I just wanted to use the ST article as a starting point for a more general discussion - whether our criminal legal system should continue to use caning as a form of punishment. Needless to say, human rights organisations such as Amnesty International regard caning as "cruel and unusual punishment", which is the technical way of saying that caning is a breach of human rights.

Some months ago, a friend alerted me to a Youtube video which purportedly shows the actual caning of a convicted child rapist in Malaysia. I would suppose that caning in Singapore would be somewhat similar (that is, the IT specialist mentioned in the ST article will suffer a similar fate).

Anyway here's the video. Please do not watch if you are squeamish. The caning takes place at a leisurely pace, but by the end of 20 strokes, the flesh on the buttocks is torn into a quivering, bloody mess.

Link to Youtube.


Anonymous said...

Gasp, that was really quite frightening. I can definitely see why human rights groups would object to this.

I might still agree with caning for rapists, but in retrospect, it's scary that caning can be imposed for much less serious offences as well.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about it being unusual but as for 'cruel', isn't that the whole idea of 'punishment'? I define cruel very broadly as causing pain, physical or otherwise.

Is any 'punishment' actually humane? Is imprisoning somebody for years not cruel? Is hanging somebody not cruel? Is fining somebody not cruel? Or should we slap the person's palm with a ruler?

Where to set the benchmark?

Anonymous said...

The punishment is barbaric. I think the 25 years jail term is adequate punishment.

All MPs, judges should go to Changi prison to see the canning before they passed such laws or pronounced such punishments.

Anonymous said...

Caning is also imposed for men who molest woman. Molest can mean just simply touching the wrong spots. Sometimes it is the woman's word against the man's word but somehow the man got convicted. But I read that if a man assaults another man or even a woman,even when there are injuries, the police may not even want to investigate and followup. The victim has to file a civil suit against the attacker to seek justice.
Correct if I am wrong but what has become of the Law if above is correct?

Anonymous said...

When there is punishment by death, what is punishment by caning?

To me, both are inhuman and cruel, ancient. Jail term is already sufficient punishment.

Anonymous said...

"I don't know about it being unusual but as for 'cruel', isn't that the whole idea of 'punishment'? I define cruel very broadly as causing pain, physical or otherwise.

Is any 'punishment' actually humane? Is imprisoning somebody for years not cruel? Is hanging somebody not cruel? Is fining somebody not cruel? Or should we slap the person's palm with a ruler?"

No, I suggest we do something more unusual....

1) Throw the criminal off a 25 story building.

2) Feed the criminal to hungry lions.

3) Put the criminal in a basket full of rocks and throw into the sea.

4) Lastly, my all time favourite, molesters, shoplifters, thiefs should get their hands amputated.

Please give more suggestions. I am very sure the garment will love to hear.

Onlooker said...

Mr Wang he is a PR FT IT specialist. I read somewhere that his wife and the stepdaughter have left Singapore already.
But my point is:- This is the highly sought Talent? that our elected representatives want?
Where is the quality control?
Mass immigrants at the price of?

Camemberu said...

Wow I could not continue watching after the fourth cane stroke. Ouch would be an understatement. I've heard caning is brutal but this is the first time I've seen it in action.

I wonder if Josef Fritzl would have still imprisoned his daughter for 24 years if he had been caned this way for his first rape offence.

Anonymous said...

Probably no one can answer the question of whether caning is effective in changing hardcore criminals than the pastor of the Church of God (S'pore) who had been jailed and caned something like 80 times and was given the nickname of "Iron Man".

His amazing story had been told in a local TV documentary.

The caning did not really reform him; instead it was the gentle but powerful touch from a spiritual passage in a religious book that triggered that process.

Anonymous said...

The fundamental philosophy of sending someone to prison is like this:

"You do not know how to live along well with others in the society. So we are going to put you away in isolation for a period of time so that you will not be a danger or nuisance to others in the society during that period. And we hope you will use that period of isolation to face the wall everyday to reflect on what you did and change for the better".

This is similar to the time-out that we give to young chidren: if you do not know how to play nicely with your siblings, you go face the wall and think about it and when you finally cool down and think you can play with punching, you can come back to join us in our play circle.

Punishment should not be part of the fundamental reason for imprisonment!

That's the current dominant western and western-dominated UN human rights view, I think.

Anonymous said...

I'm not against caning as a form of punishment, but it just seems questionable how we brandish it as a correctional tool. Furthermore, I question the validity of its use with regards to addressing certain crimes, and I would like to know if there are any studies done to show how effective caning is as a deterrent.

Anonymous said...

I dont know about other offence, but rapist well deserved this. Think about it, if the one being raped is your daughter, your girlfriend, your wife, will you think that the punishment is cruel?
I cant stand those talking about human right. They seems so noble. But I dont understand, why are they so kind towards the criminal and so cruel to the victim.

hmm said...

Why is caning reserved for men only? That's what I want to know.

If the law is really fair and equal regardless of sex I wonder why women can't be caned. I am not advocating caning or capital punishment as a means to reduce crime.. but if women can be hanged, why can't they be caned too? Is there a legal reason?

The notion of men being the stronger sex is pure hyperbole. There is no such thing as a stronger sex. The feminists told us that.

Anonymous said...

I guess canning serves 2 main functions, that of retribution and deterrent. Deterrent perhaps not for the convicted criminals, but for those contemplating crime.

Though I am largely neutral on this issue ...

Mr Wang Says So said...

Caning may be imposed for a variety of offences in Singapore, some of which are much less morally reprehensible than others.

For example, suppose you are a poor man in Bangladesh. Your unscrupulous job agent tells you that if you pay him $800 (which to you is a part of your life savings), he will arrange for you to get a legal job in Singapore.

Of course, he lied. After you paid him the money, he brought you into Singapore, but illegally. You found out too late. Now you are stuck in Singapore with no legal travel documents, and you survive on illegal odd jobs at construction sites, and no legal way of getting back to Bangladesh.

One day, you are caught. You are brought to court. You are sentenced. You get 4 strokes of the cane, a mandatory minimum sentence.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang what you just pointed out just goes to show how barbaric the PAP govt is.

The illegal immigrant/worker is just looking for survival and has committed no violent crime. And for all we know, they are ignorant of the price they have to pay if caught. Yet the PAP govt uses such harsh punishment as a deterrent thinking that the harsher the punishment the lesser the crimes committed.

This is but a throwback to the barbaric past. Nothing great about that.

I also see a pathological egoism on the part of the PAP leaders involved, who take pride in being so-called tough. However faced with a big brother country, these leaders show that they are really the greatest of cowards.

They mete out barbaric punishment to humans out of their want of humaneness and sense of proportion.

It is a great shame.

Lam Chun See said...

I notice that the no. of strokes meted out seems to be increasing over the years. Why? When I was young, we never hear of anything more than 10 strokes; if I recall correctly.

I totally disagree with such a violent punishment for non-violent crimes like vandalism and illegal immigrants and landlords too right? if I am not mistaken. Especially if they are, as you pointed out, being cheated by unscrupulous employement agents. I saw an interview on tv with one such 'illegal immigrant' from China. Really feel sad for him.

A Civil Servant said...

I can find no sympathy whatsoever in my heart for a child rapist. However, I am against caning for non-violent crimes.

I do see the problem with my judging the appropriateness of caning as a form of punishment. Nonetheless, fundamentally I feel that caning is within the bounds of what a society can deem reasonable punishment to deter offenders - a self-defence argument of sorts.

I find arguments of cruelty to be disingenuous. Is caning plus 10 years imprisonment more cruel than 25 years imprisonment? I suppose there might be some objective arbiter of Cruelty Quotient (CQ) on which this argument is based but it somehow fails to convince me.

Anonymous said...

Is this whipping brutal? Sure! Is it excessive? I don't think so. Compared with the lifelong trauma that a rapist inflicts on his victim, this guy is getting off easy.

Anonymous said...

When I was in primary school or early secondary school, I had had a chance, on a school visit, to go to a prison facility (cant rem what/where it was, vague memory of it being in the northern part of SG).

A vivid remnant of that vague memory was when they showed us the caning procedure. The contraption, for want of a better word, where they tie the prisoner is exactly as in the video and they demonstrating the caning actions as well, with a sandbag. The loud "piak" as cane contacts skin was rather disturbing for a kid then.

Anonymous said...

He deserves it. He gets some lashes and scars but the child has to deal with lifelong psychological trauma.

If the punishment is not frightening enough, child rapists would not think twice about committing the crime.

Anonymous said...

I was punished as a youth for touching and making threats to touch girls. My aunt caned my bare buttocks in front of the girls concerned and their mothers. However tough and big I thought I was, the cane was painful and humiliating, and its infliction ultimately led to me having a large involuntary bowel movement in front of the assembled audience. It was certainly the must effective way imaginable of changing the behaviour of an errant boy

Hydrangea said...

What is the big deal? 24 strokes for a rapist is nothing, should have increased it to 50 at least. Personally I prefer public stoning and torture where family members are being forced to watch is the way to go.

sandye said...

Malsysia and Singapore deserve the greatest of international condemnation for their continued use of torture - and getting away with these crimes against humanity. Treating human beings as animals and tying them up and beating them bloody with injury, no matter the offense and even for non-violent crimes, is barbaric and a crime in and of itself. But condemnation isn't enough, banning ivestments, trade, tourism and travel is a start for actions other civilized countries should take against the governments of Malaysia and Singapore. Punishment yes, physical abuse and torture at the hands of these monsters -NO.

Anonymous said...

I have been caned once in prison in Johore Bahru. I got 7 strokes way back in 1969. Did it rehabilate me? YES. I never went back to prison.
The scary part was waiting for the day I was to be caned. matters did not get better when my cellmate was carried in in pain after his caning.
42 years on I still have the scars.

Anonymous said...

If caning is not torture as the Malaysian Government claims, then let all the MPs get 20 strokes once a year. It only takes a few minutes.

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to see if any masochists intentionally broke the law in Singapore so they could get caned since if you're a masochist that means you're a glutton for punishment