Harassment in Singapore, whether online or in real-life, can be an offence under Singapore law. With the introduction of the Protection from Harassment Act (POHA) in 2014, people are now more protected from harassment as the act criminalizes certain behavior, and provides remedies for those at the receiving end of such unwanted behavior.
What kind of harassment falls under the act?
Includes, but not limited to :
- Threats e.g threatening to harm another person
- Provocation e.g loansharks
which may cause alarm or distress to you.
Stalking can also be considered an act of harassment as it may incite fear for the other party. Acts such as following, making or attempting to communicate with the other party, or loitering around places frequented by the other party (such as home or workplace) can constitute as stalking.
What can I do if I am a victim of such behavior?
You can apply for a Protection Order. However, there are different orders available, so not all of them may apply to your situation. For instance, if you are :
- Being harassed, e.g by moneylenders, stalkers, or on the receiving end of threats or insults, you can apply for an order that prohibits the receiver (i.e the harasser) to stop the harassment
- Being on the receiving end of false statements or remarks about you (e.g social media postings), you may apply for an order that requires the receiver to remove the postings. A good example can be found here : Doctor’s captions on YouTube videos of spat spark harassment case
Generally, Protection Orders will direct the harasser to stop the harassing behaviour. In the case of defamatory or false comments or publications, The Protection Order can help to stop the spread of such communication.
The harassed may also sue the harasser for monetary compensation. In such instances, we recommend that you talk to a lawyer to get advice on your legal options.
How do I Apply for a Protection Order?
Detailed steps can be found here, but below is a summary of the process.
You can apply for a Protection Order at the Family Justice Courts located at 3 Havelock Square, Singapore 059725.
If you file for a protection order, you are known as the “Complainant” . The “Respondent” is the person against whom you are filing the application for the Personal Protection Order.
After filing the order, you will have to swear or affirm that the contents of your application are true and correct. It is a serious offence to include false or incorrect statements in your application.
If things go smoothly, a summons will be issued to the respondent’s address which you have provided.
What if the harasser continues harassing me after i’ve filed the order?
Report it to the police.
Under the Protection from Harassment Act (POHA), harassment (whether online or in real-life) is considered an offence. Therefore, Breaches of Protection Orders may amount to criminal offences. Simply put, if you have applied for a protection order, and that order has been served to the harasser but they continue to harass you, they may be charged if you report it to the Police.
Breach of order is a criminal offence that is punishable by a fine of up to $2000 for a first conviction or imprisonment for a term of up to six months or both. Penalties for convictions can be found on the Ministry of Law’s website.
As mentioned earlier, a victim may also sue their harasser for monetary damages. In such instances, it is best to consult a lawyer.
Example Scenario (based on a true story)
Person A has been harassed by authorised moneylenders because she co-signed a contract agreement, in which the first party was unable to be contacted.
Moneylenders harassed her via whatsapp messages, calls, and even came down to her house and starting shouting and acting aggressively in an attempt to scare her into paying.
Person A can lodge a report against the moneylenders under POHA, who will send a letter to the moneylenders that serves as a warning against them to stop the harassment.
What if the moneylenders ignore the order and continues to harass person A? In this instance, she can report it to the police, in which the matter will be looked into by them or the court, who may then take action against the person if they are guilty.
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