SINGAPORE — It is now a legal responsibility for a woman to provide for her husband or ex-husband, should he be unable to work because of physical or mental disabilities or illness, as amendments to the Women’s Charter were passed in Parliament yesterday.

But the debate on the legislative changes also brought issues of gender equality and neutrality to the fore, as Members of Parliament (MPs) weighed in on the progress women have made when it comes to their earning power and labour participation rates.

SINGAPORE — It is now a legal responsibility for a woman to provide for her husband or ex-husband, should he be unable to work because of physical or mental disabilities or illness, as amendments to the Women’s Charter were passed in Parliament yesterday.

But the debate on the legislative changes also brought issues of gender equality and neutrality to the fore, as Members of Parliament (MPs) weighed in on the progress women have made when it comes to their earning power and labour participation rates.

Ms Rahayu Mahzam (Jurong GRC), who pointed out that women are also financially more vulnerable after a divorce, urged caution against further moves to let other groups of men claim maintenance.

Dr Lily Neo (Jalan Besar GRC) also questioned if the amended laws make it “doubly difficult” for women to look after their children and the long-term financial needs of the incapacitated ex-husband.

Other suggestions raised included taking a more proactive approach or introducing new requirements to help single unwed parents claim child maintenance.

Speaking in Parliament yesterday, Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin also reiterated that his ministry will not rename the Act with a gender-neutral term such as the “Family Charter” as “our society is not quite fully ready for the gender neutrality on the spousal maintenance front”.

“The emphasis on the family remains. Just because we do not call it a ‘Family Charter’ does not in itself mean that we are not placing the emphasis on family. For all intents and purposes, the bulk of what we are setting out in the Women’s Charter is aimed at supporting families,” he said.

The amended laws will also make it an offence to operate or maintain any website or “remote communication service” that offers or facilitates the provision of sexual services by women or girls for payment. If convicted, first-time offenders will be fined up to S$3,000 or jailed up to three years or both.

source: http://www.todayonline.com/singapore/women-must-now-provide-ill-disabled-husbands-or-ex-husbands?page=1

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