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Singapore: Sex trafficking on the rise

By Mong Palatino
June 5, 2010

There have been a number of recent reports about women trafficked into coercive brothels in Singapore. Here is a Bangkok Post report from October last year about Thai women working in "forest brothels". Here is another Bangkok Post report from late last month. And here is an Asia One investigative report from February this year about an Indian woman who managed to escape from a brothel in Singapore. These reports all seem to touch on the same sequence. And it appears that the Singapore police, passport/airport officers and government are somehow in an informal understanding/collusion with this low-end business, perhaps as a way of supplying inexpensive sexual services/outlets for the 600,000 foreign workers populating the hundreds of over-crowded foreign worker "dormitories".

The only persons ever arrested are the actual women who somehow manage to escape from the pimps/brothels and ask for help, or need help to get back to their home country. And Singapore's policy is to process them and deport them immediately so that there are no cumulative statistics, no witnesses available for any trials of the traffickers/agents/recruiters or the actual coercive brothel owners.

In fact, it appears that almost no traffickers/recruiters/agents are ever arrested and put on trial despite their numerous trips in and out of Singapore with these women; no coercive brothel owners or pimps/enforcers are ever arrested or put on trial despite their human rights violations against these women (and presumably Singapore laws in regard to kidnapping, pimping, forced drug injections, etc. are being violated in quantity) .

The women are given no police protection whatsoever despite Singapore police enforcing the laws regularly and fastidiously in other areas of Singapore life. In fact, it would appear that the police are acting on behalf of the brothel owners and traffickers, at the very least in a passive way, if not actually in a collusive way.

The women do not exist insofar as Singapore human rights exist and are applied. They are illegal immigrants with no rights and so long as they are locked up and under the control of pimps/enforcers, it is perfectly OK for any man who wants to pay, to step into their tiny little room and rape them as much as he pleases.

This in a country where buying chewing gum is illegal....

Singapore needs to be called out on this situation. It's a contradiction to their endlessly promoted "brand" and beneath their standing as one of the "1st world" nations in the overall scheme of things. And unlike say Cambodia, if Singapore is called out enough, they are actually capable of being embarrassed and mobilizing the law enforcement resources to shut this despicable business down.

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Last updated: October 13, 2010