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Singapore Women's Charter

Roles, Responsibilities and Rights in Marriage

Theresa W. Devasahayam

Publication Year: 2011

The chapters in this book are an assembly of commentaries by a distinguished team of specialists on the social impact of the Singapore Women’s Charter on women and men. The Women's Charter is the main legislation protecting women’s rights in the context of the family in Singapore. Highlights of this book include the reasons for the significance of legislation to protect women’s rights in marriage; how the legislation came about; case studies from Southeast Asia; how the Singapore Women’s Charter evolved and became established; how the Charter goes beyond protecting women’s rights by reinforcing men’s and women’s obligations and duties in a marital partnership; how the Charter has come to be perceived by men and women especially in its enforcement in the context of divorce; and the social repercussions of the Charter on the family in its application. There has been ongoing discussion on the implications of the Charter on the lives of Singaporean women and men for some years since its implementation. The purpose of this book is to enrich our understanding of this legislation further — its objectives, efficacy and shortfalls.

Published by: ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xii

I thank the Director of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS), Ambassador K. Kesavapany, for inviting me to contribute the Foreword to this volume which contains the papers submitted to the symposium “Revisiting the Singapore Women’s Charter”. The symposium was ...

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Keynote Address

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pp. xiii-xxiv

I feel very privileged to be given this honour as I see so many distinguished people in the audience who are more qualified than me to fill this role. Nevertheless, I must confess that I readily accepted the invitation when I was asked as this sort of an opportunity seldom comes my way. Now that I am ...

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1. Legal Mechanisms for Protecting Women's Rights: Examples from Southeast Asia

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pp. 1-42

With increasing levels of economic development in countries across the world, the assumption is that there would be greater equality between men and women in every facet of life. It is no longer a surprise to see women making a mark in the public sphere: there are women in ...

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2. The Women's Charter, 1961: Where We Were Coming From and How We Got There

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pp. 43-78

In “The Tasks Ahead” — their manifesto for the June 1959 Singapore General Election — the People’s Action Party (PAP) had promised to legislate monogamous marriage and to make other radical improvements to the status of women.1 By April 1960, the Women’s Charter Bill (No. 81 of 1960) was presented to the Legislative Assembly for debate. ...

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3. Significant Provisions in the Women's Charter

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pp. 79-112

The Women’s Charter is Chapter 353 of Singapore’s statutes.1 It was originally enacted in 1961 as the common marriage and family statute for non-Muslim Singaporeans.2 The People’s Action Party (PAP) had included as one item in its election manifesto3 the complete review of Singapore’s existing ...

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4. A Lawyer's Perspective on How Divorcees View the Women's Charter

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pp. 113-146

Divorce has increasingly become an inevitable consequence of marriage in many parts of the world. That the incidence of divorce is on the increase worldwide is related to a number of factors. Romantic love — which was commonly thought to dictate the formation of marital unions — is on the demise and has been touted as one reason for the rise in divorce. ...

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5. "The Morning After": Understanding and Exploring the Psychosocial Impact of the Women's Charter on Familiies Experiencing Domestic Violence

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pp. 147-177

Family violence is a complex issue relating to the breakdown of an intimate relationship. Former Senior District Judge Richard Magnus (2003) recognizes family violence as: ...

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6. Epilogue: Some Thoughts on Protecting Women's Rights in the Family and Beyond

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pp. 179-186

Women’s rights in countries the world over are protected by a gamut of laws. There are pieces of legislation enabling women’s participation in the public sphere or civil society and the arenas of education, mass media, market economy, and politics. There are also laws protecting women’s rights ...


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pp. 187-200

E-ISBN-13: 9789814279758
Print-ISBN-13: 9789814345019

Page Count: 200
Publication Year: 2011

Edition: 1