Sex Trafficking in Singapore

Issue 33  //  · 

STATISTICS

MORE THAN 45 MILLION PEOPLE WORLDWIDE ARE VICTIMS OF TRAFFICKING

79% ARE WOMEN AND CHILDREN, FOR SEXUAL OR LABOUR EXPLOITATION

34 TRAFFICKING CASES INVESTIGATED IN 2017. 22 WERE CASES OF SUSPECTED SEX TRAFFICKING

How does sex trafficking work?
Sex trafficking is a form of human trafficking, specifically for the purpose of sexual exploitation. It occurs when someone is forced, coerced or cheated into a commercial sex act such as prostitution, pornography, and any sexual performance in exchange for items of value like money, food, shelter, or drugs.

Does it happen in Singapore? 
In Singapore, prostitution in regulated red-light districts is legal. Sex workers and brothels are issued special licenses by the police’s Specialised Crime Branch, also known as the anti-vice department, to operate. However, certain prostitution-related activities are illegal, such as pimping, importing a woman for sex work (even if she is consensual), and public solicitation.

The problem is that the laws in Singapore both tolerate and criminalise sex work at the same time. The government has stated that they do this so that it is easier to regulate prostitution, but it also means that sex trafficking then becomes more difficult to track and abolish.

In fact, in 2010 and in 2017, Singapore was categorised as Tier 2 in the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report published by the U.S. Department of State. Tier 2 is a category for countries that have a significant number of trafficking victims and have failed to show efforts to combat the situation.

Why is it difficult to stop sex-trafficking in Singapore? 
Many women who end up in Singapore as sex workers are lured with promises of highly paid professional work, or as waitresses or hostesses. Upon their arrival, they might have their passports taken from them and are forced into sex work to pay o their debts. With no way to get help, most victims have no choice but to agree.

In addition, most of these women enter Singapore on tourist visas. Therefore, when they are caught, they are treated as immigration offenders rather than victims of sex trafficking, making them more vulnerable to reentering the sex trade as they are not allowed to find legal work or even return home. As many come from Bangladesh, Myanmar, India, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines, even when victims want help, language barriers stop them from getting it.

WHAT NOW:
– In 2018, Channel NewsAsia reported that a large number of Singaporean men have been looking for sex with girls in Batam, Indonesia. Not just that, but they specifically want girls who are virgins or teenagers. These girls are about the same age as you are. Does this knowledge make you feel differently about the situation?

– Pray for Hagar Singapore, a Christian NGO at the front line of combating sex trafficking in Singapore. They currently work with the Singapore government to strengthen public awareness and enforcement capacity, and provide victim care to trafficked women and girls in Singapore.

– If you come across a potential trafficking situation in Singapore, report it to:
Police hotline (+65) 6435 0000
Ministry of Manpower (+65) 6438 5122 

GET INVOLVED BY FOLLOWING THESE NGOS (BOTH LOCAL AND OVERSEAS) AND SEE HOW YOU CAN CONTRIBUTE!

– FB.COM/HAGARINTERNATIONAL
– FB.COM/EMANCIPASIA
– @HAGARSINGAPORE
– @EXODUSCRY
– @WIPEEVERYTEAR

Isabel Phua
Isabel love living in Tampines West. She enjoy the neighbourhood so much that she even joined the local community centre to watch a World Cup match in 2018. GOOAAALLL!!!

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