SINGAPORE — Sengkang Member of Parliament (MP) Raeesah Khan admitted in Parliament that she did not accompany an alleged rape victim to the police station as previously stated in the House and made a tearful apology on Monday (1 November).
Raeesah also told fellow MPs that the anecdote of the survivor's experience was shared by the latter in a support group for women, which the Workers' Party (WP) MP was a part of. She revealed that she herself was a victim of sexual assault when she was 18 studying abroad.
“That assault has traumatised me till this day. The fear and shame accompanying sexual assault is extreme and long lasting, as it has been, and still is for me. Unlike the survivor whose anecdote I shared in this House, I did not have the courage to report my own assault,” the MP said.
Raeesah said that she had disregarded the principle of consent in discussions on survivors consent and sexual assault.
“I should not have shared the survivor's anecdote without her consent, nor should I have said that I accompanied her to the police station when I had not. It was wrong of me to do so. To survivors of sexual violence, I hope that this does not deter you from reporting your assaults."
During an August parliamentary debate on empowering women, Raeesah had said that she accompanied a 25-year-old woman to make a police report three years ago. However, the woman came out of the police station crying and alleged that officers had made comments about her dressing, and the fact that she was drinking, according to Raeesah.
Last month, Law and Home Affairs K Shanmugam asked Raeesah in Parliament to provide more information to assist police investigations, such as the police station, the month the report was filed and other details. The WP MP declined to elaborate, citing the need to protect the alleged victim's identity.
In response, Shanmugam said that police would interview Raeesah.
The police later said Raeesah had yet to turn up for an interview despite two requests by the agency to provide case details.
Raeesah on Monday apologised to the Singapore Police Force, the survivor whose quote she had used in the House, her constituents, and the WP, its members and volunteers. She then paused before breaking down and apologised to her parents and family.
In response, the Leader of the House Indranee Rajah said she was “very sorry” to hear that Raeesah was a victim of sexual assault and hoped that she would have the courage to overcome the trauma and emerge stronger.
Nonetheless, Indranee said she had to seek some clarifications from Raeesah.
The WP MP replied to Indranee that she was not truthful in her original statement delivered in Parliament in August, and in her replies to Minister of State at Home Affairs Desmond Tan’s questions then and Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam two months later about her claims.
Indranee said that as a result of Raeesah’s claims, there was “a cloud hanging over the police” and it was “unfair” to them as they had to do investigations and spend a lot of time and resources to deal with the matter.
“Most of all, and this really is the most distressing part, what has happened does a great disservice to the survivors of sexual assault and rape victims. And the reason is this, because it's hard enough for such women who are victims to tell their stories,” Indranee said.
Indranee then filed a complaint on the matter to be heard before a parliamentary Committee of Privileges.
“Therefore, given what we have heard today, I really have no choice but to raise a complaint under Section 107B of the Standing Orders for breach of privilege suddenly arising based on firstly the disclosure by the Member that she has not been truthful, has lied to Parliament, not once, not twice, but three times and also because she has been unable to substantiate allegations that have been made.”
As Indranee is a member of the Committee of Privileges and that she is a complainant in this case, the Minister in the Prime Minister's Office said she would wish to recuse herself from the Committee. In addition, she sought on behalf of Shanmugam to be recused from the Committee as well, as his ministry is involved.
Speaker of the House Tan Chuan-Jin then said the matter will be referred to the Committee.
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