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Punish single unwed mums & babies to deter women having children out of wedlock

Posted on 03 August 2015

Unwed mothers deserve no sympathy.


I agree with the writer of “Unwed mums did make choices that led to their situation” (Aug. 1), and I wish to add a point.

Some people argue for more benefits on the grounds that the child is innocent. While this is true, the child is also the parents’ responsibility.

For something to be a strong disincentive, it often must go beyond affecting the person himself. Nothing is more motivating than preventing harm from coming to the people one loves.

For example, jail terms are a deterrent not only because of the unpleasant confinement, but also the loss of income, which may create hardship for the offender’s family.

Likewise, loan sharks ask for their client’s address because they can incentivise their clients to pay their debt by inflicting some pain on their family.

Kidnapping a person and asking for ransom would work better than torturing him directly. Terrorists, criminals and the justice system understand this principle.

In the case of benefits for single mothers, if we intend to deter people from unwanted pregnancies, we must make good on the threat of inadequate support for a child born out of wedlock, otherwise the deterrent will not work.

In conclusion, the matter is a balance between social justice and setting the right incentives.

Sum Siew Kee

This is a real letter published in Today on Aug. 3, 2015.






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Wang Pei can be considered a new citizen of Singapore. She has been here all her life, just that her environment's changed beyond recognition.

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