Human Trafficking & 377a in Singapore
The irony that homosexuality is criminalised here to uphold conservative moral values, while selling women for marriage — illegal in so many countries, including fellow ASEAN country Vietnam — is legal, and legitimised through frontpage news features.
This week, the Newpaper featured a company who imports Vietnamese women to be married to Singapore men for a fee. (http://news.asiaone.com/news/singapore/ive-been-asked-arrange-sham-marriages-matchmaker?page=0%2C4)
Unlike dating agencies for locals where both the men and women get a choice in who they want to date, these women are displayed and treated like goods.
“The women inside it are well-dressed. They wear lipstick and have powdered faces. Outside his shop is a signboard with the words “bride” in Chinese characters…..If a man wants to marry them, he pays the agency $6,800 in cash or cheque.”
The company had previously used a different operating model where
” matches were made mainly by taking the men to Vietnam for “viewings”….Up to eight men in each group would travel to villages in Vietnam, where the women would line up, dressed to charm.There, the men would select their brides and even have a wedding reception.Vows would be exchanged for $12,888 package that included air tickets, a health check-up for the bride, the matchmaker’s overheads and payment to middlemen.”
This practice is illegal.
“greater enforcement of immigration laws in Vietnam have made such trips risky. Says Mr Toh: “The Vietnamese authorities consider these ‘viewings’ as human trafficking and arrest those who conduct them.”
His Vietnamese brother-in-law was nabbed in 2009 and convicted for taking two men on a matchmaking trip to a village near Ho Chi Minh City. He is currently serving an eight-year jail term.
Now, Mr Toh flies the girls here on social visit passes, valid for two to four weeks. They stay with his family in a four-room flat in the Chai Chee area.
In the day, the girls meet prospective husbands. Some choose to sit in his office – the size of a two-room flat – hoping the man of their dreams will stride in.”
Why are such practices illegal? Why is it considered Human Trafficking rather than Matchmaking? The answer is that such practices put the women in very vulnerable situations where they are powerless and exploited.
“Then, he had paired a 21-year-old Vietnamese woman with a 50-year-old Singaporean man.
Barely two weeks after the man took the woman home, she came running back to the agency.
The man apparently had a drinking problem. One night before the wedding, he came home drunk and used a knife to make her sleep with him.
Says Mr Toh: “I sent her back to Vietnam. I also didn’t refund his fee, because he hid his drinking habit from me.”
If a Singaporean woman had gone to SDU for matchmaking, and got forced to have sex by her arranged date at knife point, she would have been able to report him, and he would be severely punished for rape/attempted rape. However, Mr Toh sent the Vietnamese girl home, probably traumatised, without any justice done to the rapist.
Yet this article has been published on the front page news, with no protest from anyone, and no action taken by the police against this rape. No church or mosque has come out in condemnation of this injustice
This is the state of the law and morality in Singapore
Yet, the State and churches and mosques here constantly support the criminalisation of LGBT people, in the name of upholding morality. Even though this puts us amongst the most backward countries ( http://filipspagnoli.wordpress.com/2008/10/12/human-rights-maps-15-homosexuality-laws/ )
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