What does it mean to be a woman in Singapore? In today’s society, she is viewed as an assertive and fearless individual—and someone who has the ability to empower herself as well as others.
And the fact does not change even after she gets married and becomes a wife. She also holds certain rights as a married Singaporean woman under the Women’s Charter.
What is the Women’s Charter?
According to the Singapore Statutes Online, the Women’s Charter is an Act to provide for monogamous marriages and for the solemnization and registration of such marriages; to amend and consolidate the law relating to divorce, the rights and duties of married persons, the protection of family, the maintenance of wives, incapacitated husbands and children and the punishment of offences against women and girls; and to provide for matters incidental thereto.
We look further into the rights that a Singaporean woman is entitled to under this act.
What are the rights of a Singaporean woman under the Women’s Charter in Singapore?
- The wife shall have the right to use her own surname and name separately.
- The husband and the wife shall have equal rights in the running of the family home.
- A married woman can own her own property. Her property is not necessarily her husband’s.
- A wife is not liable for her husband’s debt.
- Housekeeping allowance given by the husband to the wife shall be treated as belonging to both parties in equal shares, unless there are exceptional agreements proving otherwise.
- In the event that the wife loans money to her husband for his business, and the husband becomes bankrupt, the wife can reclaim the loan as a creditor, but remains last in priority after other creditors.
- Gifts given by the husband to the wife may be treated as attempts to defraud creditors, and may be claimed by creditors, if the husband becomes bankrupt.
- Under section 68 of the Women’s Charter, parents have a duty to maintain their children.
- Under section 69 of the Women’s Charter, any married woman whose husband fails to provide her reasonable maintenance may apply for her maintenance of either a monthly allowance or a lump sum to the Court.
- Divorce cannot be filed within 3 years of a marriage and can only be for the sole reason that marriage has irretrievably broken down. The Court would accept the following as grounds for divorce:
- One party has committed adultery;
- One party has behaved in a way that the other cannot be reasonably expected to continue living with him or her;
- One party has deserted the other for at least 2 years;
- The parties have separated for at least 3 years, and the defendant consents to divorce
- The parties have separated for at least 4 years, and whether the defendant has consented to the divorce is irrelevant
- Judicial separation can also be filed, allowing both parties to stop cohabiting, for the above mentioned reasons.
- The court can order for the division of matrimonial assets upon divorce.
- The court can order a man to pay maintenance to his wife upon divorce, separation or annulment of marriage.
- Pimping (living on the earnings of a prostitute), as well as the trafficking of women and girls, are all offences under the Women’s Charter, in addition to other acts.
Under section 68 of the Women’s Charter, parents have a duty to maintain their children. | Photo: iStock
Also read: What to Do If Your Ex-Spouse Denies You Access to Your Child