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NUS opens new unit to support student victims of sexual misconduct

SINGAPORE — The National University of Singapore (NUS) has set up a Victim Care Unit to help students who have encountered some form of sexual misconduct, it said on Thursday (Aug 29).

Students who are victims of sexual misconduct or sex crimes may seek help from the National University of Singapore's new Victim Care Unit through a 24-hour hotline, a confidential online contact form or by email.

Students who are victims of sexual misconduct or sex crimes may seek help from the National University of Singapore's new Victim Care Unit through a 24-hour hotline, a confidential online contact form or by email.

Singapore

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SINGAPORE — The National University of Singapore (NUS) has set up a Victim Care Unit to help students who have encountered some form of sexual misconduct, it said on Thursday (Aug 29).  

The move is the latest in a series of measures implemented by NUS to ramp up campus safety and support for victims of sexual misconduct, after the issue became a topic of national discussion in April, when undergraduate Monica Baey's social media posts about being filmed while showering went viral. 

In a circular to students, Professor Ho Teck Hua, NUS' senior deputy president and provost, said ​that the new unit “offers a safe space for victims to seek support from a team of trained professionals who are experienced in working with victims of sexual misconduct”. 

In a news release posted on its website, NUS said that victims can choose to seek help from the Victim Care Unit “regardless of who the perpetrators are or where the incidents happen”. This includes incidents that happened “off-campus, in a different country or in the past”.

Victims who need support may seek help from the unit through several channels: A 24-hour hotline, a confidential online contact form or by email. They will then be connected to a designated care officer who will provide them with the resources that they require. 

Care officers can also liaise with other units or agencies or refer the students to counsellors should they need more support, the statement said. 

FORMER FIELD PSYCHOLOGIST AT MINDEF

The unit is headed by Associate Professor Sandy Lim, who has experience in tackling issues of sexual misconduct in her current work at the NUS Business School’s Department of Management and Organisation, Prof Ho said. 

She was previously a field psychologist at the Ministry of Defence, where she helped with providing psychological support to agencies in crisis and national emergencies.

The NUS website stated that the Victim Care Unit team is made up of five staff members, including care officers and administrative and research staff members.

“These care officers were specially chosen for their experience in helping victims from multiple backgrounds, varying ethnicities, identities and orientations. They also have experience as counsellors and working with the police,” the website said.

UNIT NOT YET TESTED 

Undergraduate law student Ms Tay, 21, said she was glad that NUS recognises that victim care is as important as raising the penalties against perpetrators of sexual misconduct. 

Earlier in June, NUS announced tougher penalties on those who commit sexual misconduct on campus. Among the new penalties are a minimum one-year suspension and immediate expulsion in severe cases.

Still, Ms Tay said that it remains to be seen whether the Victim Care Unit has enough manpower and resources to support potential victims. She declined to give her full name because she is worried about repercussions from the university for speaking to the media.

“Given that it’s a new initiative, we have yet to see how this will be implemented within NUS. Based on the information provided, there are five staff members. I hope NUS will continue to monitor the situation and respond accordingly if there is high demand by such students.” 

Fellow NUS student P Lim, 21, has similar concerns, saying that whether the new unit is effective depends on how it acts once a victim reaches out to the team. 

“Will the victim get the necessary treatment immediately, such as counselling or sexual assault kits?" she asked. A sexual assault kit includes a checklist, materials and instructions, along with envelopes and containers to hold any specimens collected during a physical examination. "And will the victims be coached through the gruelling trial process when they have to face the police or authorities at NUS?” 

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NUS sexual misconduct Victim Care Unit Monica Baey

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