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Study sheds light on sex trafficking in Singapore

Victims either lured here by friends or were already prostitutes elsewhere

Published on Feb 10, 2014 7:51 AM
Women believed to be sex workers seen in Geylang last year. The Ministry of Home Affairs and Manpower Ministry are <NO1>?? (yes)<NO>leading an inter-agency task force to fight sex and labour trafficking. -- THE NEW PAPER FILE PHOTO

An independent study of sex trafficking victims has shed some light on the murky world of the unregulated sex trade here.

It found that victims from the Philippines were lured to Singapore by friends and acquaintances on the pretext of jobs such as waitressing and hostessing, before ending up in nightclubs.

Some Indonesian victims, meanwhile, were already prostitutes in Batam before coming here to ply their trade on the streets and budget hotels, under the watchful eyes of local pimps.

The 144-page study, released last week, was conducted by Singapore-based academic Sallie Yea, an assistant professor of geography at the National Institute of Education, who interviewed 87 women tricked into coming to Singapore.

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Background story

Slightly more sex trafficking reports last year

THE police received 53 sex trafficking reports last year, up slightly from 52 in 2012 and 43 in 2011.

While the rest are still under investigation, five have been dealt with in court.

One of them involved a 17-year-old from China, who was beaten and drugged before being brought here last May to work as a prostitute.

The minor was made to serve 150 clients in 15 days.

Her pimp from China, 37-year-old Tang Huisheng, was sentenced to six years in jail last October.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), which provided the latest numbers on Saturday, said it has not received the new report by Dr Sallie Yea on sex trafficking here.

"We look forward to her sharing the report with us," a spokesman said.

MHA and the Manpower Ministry are currently leading an inter-agency task force set up in 2010 to combat sex and labour trafficking.

A spokesman said that it started a one-year study of sex trafficking victims last April

to shed more light on their profile and how sex trafficking rings operate.

She added that since last August, the task force has been cutting "procedural impediments" in how sex trafficking cases are handled.

The changes will ensure that cases are followed up on and tracked more effectively.

The police also formed an anti-sex trafficking team comprising investigation and intelligence officers last February, she said.

The spokesman stressed that it will "take time" for the task force's plans to be effective in stamping out trafficking.