While most family violence cases in Singapore involve situations where the woman is abused by the man, there are also scenarios where the husband is ill-treated by the wife.
In Singapore, while women who are in an abusive situation can get help from the law under the Women’s Charter, there are no provisions for men in similar situations. Women can apply for legal protection, seek counselling and shelter but men who are abused have no recourse.
The Women’s Charter defines family violence as one where:
- a family member is wilfully put in a position of fear
- a family member was hurt by an act by another family member
- the victim was wrongfully confined or restrained by a family member against their will
- a family member continually harasses the victim with intent to cause agony and distress. This can include verbal abuse, psychological or emotional abuse
Traditionally, it is quite incomprehensible for most to grapple with the idea that a wife can abuse her husband within the matrimonial home. This is, however, a situation that is increasingly emerging in Singapore.
An abused husband who decides that he can no longer tolerate the situation can apply for a divorce from his abusive spouse, citing his mistreatment by his abusive wife.
Singapore laws dictate that a couple must have been married for at least 3 years before they are able to apply for a divorce. However, in exceptional cases, the court will be willing to waive to 3 year bar.
What are these exceptions to the rule?
The husband must show that he has suffered exceptional hardship and abusive wife has demonstrated exceptional depravity.
Exceptional hardship is established as when the conflicts occurring in the marriage is out of the ordinary and more than what an ordinary person can be reasonably expected to bear.
Exceptional depravity is when the spouse behaves in such reprehensible manner that causes the husband extreme duress.
However, in order for his application to be granted by the court, the husband needs to show that his wife’s abusive behaviour constituted sufficient cause that he suffered exceptional hardship without recourse to alternative remedies and relief.
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