Singapore is a destination country for human trafficking.
Singapore is a destination country for women and girls who are trafficked from Thailand, the Philippines, the People’s Republic of China, and Indonesia for commercial sexual and labor exploitation. Some women voluntarily migrate to Singapore to work as prostitutes but are later coerced into sexual servitude.1
The Singaporean Government
The Singaporean Government was placed in Tier 2 in the 2007 U.S. Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report for fully complying with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but was making significant efforts to do so.
Singapore does not have a law specific to anti-trafficking, however, it has many laws to prosecute, protect, and prevent human trafficking, specifically the Women’s Charter, the Children and Young Persons’ Act, and the Penal Code. The Penal Code criminalizes most forms of trafficking, but does not criminalize the use of 16 and 17 year old children used in prostitution. Laws used to criminalize labor trafficking include the Penal Code, the Employment Agency Rules, and the Employment of Foreign Workers Act. Penalties include imprisonment, and caning for any type of trafficking.2
In the first nine months of 2006, 23 employers were prosecuted and convicted for abusing their foreign domestic workers. In one case, an employer was sentenced to nine months in jail for scalding her maid and hitting her with a clothes hanger. In February 2007, an employer was sentenced to 21 months' imprisonment for physically abusing her domestic servant. In August 2006, a father and son were fined SGD 20,000 each after they pled guilty to failing to pay the salaries of workers at their now bankrupt construction firm.3
The Singaporean Government funds shelters and local NGOs, provides counseling, health care, physical security, and skills development programs for abused foreign domestic workers and victims of sexual exploitation. The Ministry of Manpower has a hotline for foreign domestic workers. Singapore does not provide legal alternatives to victims who face hardship or retribution in their home country. There have been no reports of trafficking victims who have been jailed or prosecuted.4
The Singaporean government raises awareness of trafficking among its foreign domestic workers. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) prints information on employees’ rights and police hotline numbers, and mails newsletters with information on workers’ rights and responsibilities to foreign domestic workers. MOM also began randomly interviewing domestic workers to determine their working conditions and knowledge of their employee rights.5
The U.S. Department of State recommends the Singaporean Parliament should approve proposed amendments to the Penal Code that would criminalize prostitution involving a minor under the age of 18, extend extra-territorial jurisdiction over Singaporean citizens and permanent residents who purchase or solicit sexual services from minors overseas, and make organizing or promoting child sex tours a criminal offense.6
1 2007 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
2 2006 US Department of State Human Rights Report
3 2007 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
4 2007 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
5 2007 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
6 2007 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
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