A separate case filed by Kawshigan in the Singapore Magistrate’s Court was overturned last month for abuse of process, and the woman’s lawyers said Kawshigan was ordered to pay her court costs. In that lawsuit, he had asked for nearly $17,000, alleging that the woman had violated an “offer” she had made which included “the offer of a place for [Kawshigan] share inspiration, struggle and achievements” and “meet based on mutual availability, beyond cafes”.
The woman argued that the a lawsuit seeking $17,000 was an abuse of process because it was “brought for an ulterior purpose” to force her to “comply with his demands to, among other things, resume communications with him.”
The trial illustrates a challenge faced by women around the world: that men sometimes feel entitled to their affection. “Women don’t owe men their time or attention, much less their friendship, love, sexual activity or emotional labor,” Aware Singapore, which advocates for women’s rights and gender equality, said in a statement regarding the trial. “Attempting to demand or coerce these things, by legal or other means, may constitute harassment.”
Singapore ranks 49th in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap 2022 report, making it the country with the second highest level of gender equality in Asia, after the Philippines. Japan has long struggled with gender-based income inequality, and even whispering about feminism in South Korea can spark an outcry. Yet, like many other developed countries, Singapore struggles with sexism and misogyny, such as the pervasiveness of incels, or unwittingly celibate, anti-feminist men.
Ahead of elections, South Korean feminists fight sexist backlash
Kawshigan first met the woman in a “social setting” in 2016, according to the trial court’s ruling. “Over time, their friendship grew, but problems started to arise” in September 2020, when “they became misaligned about how they viewed their relationship.”
The woman considered Kawshigan a friend, while Kawshigan “considered her his ‘closest friend,'” according to court records, which said she asked to see Kawshigan less frequently, which upset him. He said such an action would be “a step backwards” in their “relationship”. She in turn said they needed to set boundaries, urging Kawshigan to be “self-reliant”.
Kawshigan, according to the ruling, “did not react well to this.”
He sent the woman a letter in October 2020 threatening her with legal action for damages resulting from “emotional distress and possible defamation”. She told Kawshigan she was really uncomfortable. He threatened that if she did not comply with his demands, she would face “damage to her personal and professional efforts”.
The woman agreed to participate in counseling sessions with Kawshigan, which kept his legal threats at bay, according to court records. But after about a year and a half of counseling, she felt the exercises no longer made sense, she said, as Kawshigan seemed “unable to accept her reasons for not wanting a relationship or association. with him”.
She obtained a restraining order against Kawshigan, who then filed the suit in the magistrates’ court while the other case was pending.
Kawshigan said in an email that “as there are still key proceedings pending” he would not comment until the matter is resolved. Kawshigan represented himself in both cases, according to court records.
Siyuan Chen, an associate professor of law at Singapore Management University, said there was “probably no merit” to Kawshigan’s claim.
“On the merits, the alleged damage suffered must arise from something, whether it is a contract or a claim,” he said, adding that the magistrates’ court judgment showed that “neither can be established”.