Austin Cowburn, British Tourist, Faces Caning for Singapore Groping


Singaporean officials may cane Austin Cowburn, a 34-year-old British tourist, for grabbing a woman's butt at a nightclub earlier this year.

Cowburn was charged on Friday with "outraging the modesty" of a 30-year-old woman, according to the Straits Times. The paper also reports that Cowburn's passport was seized by authorities and that he is currently residing in a local hostel, waiting for his hearing on Wednesday.

The maximum sentence for the crime is two years in prison coupled with a fine and a lashing across the bare butt with a rattan cane. The penalties can (and likely will) be changed if the judge feels like avoiding an international incident.

The groping occurred at the luxurious China One nightclub where Cowburn, a recruitment specialist currently working in Qatar, proved to not be so great at his job after all.

Singapore has caned foreigners before, but the government seems loathe to make a habit of it because it can create some diplomatic boondoggles. In the 1990s Bill Clinton admonished the country after a young American was sentenced to 12 strokes for vandalism.

A notoriously rule-bound country, Singapore has the tendency to treat its citizens like unruly school kids. To wit, anyone convicted of littering three time is forced to clean the streets while wearing a bib saying: "I am a litterer."

An Overview of Singapore's History and Culture

Read Full Story

Sign up for the Travel Report by AOL newsletter to get exclusive deals and wanderlust inspiration delivered straight to your inbox every day.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.