A Singapore Institute of Management student who recruited two girls to be sexually exploited was jailed for six years and three months and fined $30,000 yesterday, the first person to be prosecuted under the Prevention of Human Trafficking Act.
Muhammad Khairulanwar Rohmat, 25, admitted to four of 18 charges - three under the Act for recruiting a child for sexual exploitation and receiving earnings from a trafficked victim, and one under the Penal Code for sexual penetration of a minor.
Khairulanwar, who was represented by Mr Ferlin Jayatissa, had other charges taken into consideration during sentencing.
Under the Act, if the victim is below the age of 18, the perpetrator is considered to have trafficked him or her even if he used no coercive means to do so. It is enough that one recruits, conveys or harbours a child with the intention of exploiting the child.
The maximum punishment under the Act, which came into force in March last year, is a $100,000 fine, 10 years' jail and six strokes of the cane.
The month after the Act was enacted, Khairulanwar offered a modelling job to a 15-year-old girl, provided she was willing to perform "extra" duties, including having sex with her customers. She rejected his offer, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Chee Min Peng, who was with DPP Amanda Chong.
But she met him at the Starbucks cafe in Centrepoint two days later, when he told her he had a modelling job for her. Identifying himself as "Khai", he briefed her on how much she would be paid and told her he would need to assess her body without clothes on. At that point, she agreed to the price as well as to provide sexual services.
She then followed him to a male toilet at Cuppage Plaza, where he took photographs of her in the nude and sexually abused her.
He continued to send her texts after that meeting to convince her to take on prostitution jobs.
His other victim, now 17, met him thinking he was a client, at the Five Tapaz bar in Cuppage Terrace.
She had answered an advertisement, posted by Khairulanwar under the pseudonym Mrdotdotdot, for a job offering "fast cash... in nightlife environment, drinking and entertaining customers".
But she refused his request for sex and excused herself to use the toilet when she became afraid.
Minutes later, posing as Mrdotdotdot, Khairulanwar called and persuaded her to return to say goodbye to the client.
When she did so, the client, "Khai", took her to the toilet where she performed a sexual act on him.
After that night, he persisted in pressuring her to prostitute herself. He would pose as Mrdotdotdot to intimidate her and Khai as an empathetic confidant.
Refusing to have anything more to do with Mrdotdotdot, whom she found rude, she turned to Khai, who offered her a "better" job.
Khai gave her alcohol to "train" her to drink and had sex with her, which he filmed, in a hotel.
From then on, he began to arrange customers for her. At least once, she gave him $50 out of the $450 she had received from a customer.
DPP Chee said Khairulanwar received a total of $5,730 from earnings by her and other prostitutes.
In his brief grounds of decision, District Judge Mathew Joseph said human trafficking is an abhorrent crime that degrades common humanity. It is a modern form of slavery involving forced labour, organ trafficking and sexual exploitation.
He agreed with the prosecution that there were aggravating factors. In a clear pattern of moral corruption, Khairulanwar exploited his victims' desire for work to persuade them to sell their bodies.
He was cunning and deceitful in posing as different people to trick the second victim, and devious in applying pressure on both, whom the judge labelled as "little lost children", to engage in sexual acts with him before introducing customers to them. "This was reprehensible as it was a double exploitation of a vulnerable child," he said.