Protection for whom from what: a legislative history of the female minimum age for sexual consent in Singapore
Notes & Changes
Legislation regulating the minimum age of sexual consent reflects both how the law struggles to navigate the liminal space between childhood and adulthood, and the contested area of female bodily autonomy. I trace legislation regulating the minimum ages of consent for females engaging in heterosexual intercourse in Singapore from its colonial origins under British rule, through Singapore’s dramatic social and economic shifts post-Independence, to the modern age and a focus on the protection of children from adult predators. I argue that the discourse throughout this period has been dominated by the idea of “protection”, but that the imprecision of this term has acted as a smokescreen to obscure very different concepts over time of what is being protected, and who is being protected. Only by interrogating the idea of protection can the political drivers behind legislation be identified, and the shift from protection based on gender to protection based on age be discovered.
Charlotte Kelly is a D.Phil researcher at Oxford's Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, and will introduce her ongoing research into the female age of consent in Singapore.