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/ )
How many times have we heard people tell us : What are you complaining about? You’re free to do whatever you want what! What more freedom do you want?
We’ve been told: Yes, you can say whatever you want –– At Speakers’ Corner
We’ve been told: Yes, you can love whoever you want —- We’re not going to police folks for 377A
We’ve been told: Yes, you can worship however you want —- But do as we say or you go to hell
Freedom is a good thing to have. We need Freedom. It’s our basic human right.
We applaud those who advocate for the Freedoms humankinds deserve, the Freedoms that do not hurt others
But Freedom can’t be enough.
We need Dignity.
We need to speak with Dignity. Not in a corner.
We need to love with Dignity. Not in a closet.
We need to worship with Dignity. Not in disgrace.
I’ll like to salute 3 new/upcoming initiatives & appeal for everyone’s support.
Share the links on Facebook. Tweet them. Tell your friends about them.
Remember them when you’re in need of resources.
A newly launched website , written after much inputs & research from/by straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered & questioning people :
An Sg website to set things straight. To help set people’s thinking straight.
A website guided by this conviction:
Everyone has the right to an opinion, but no one has the right to pass off an opinion as a fact. When incorrect facts are populated, when opinions do not match reality, innocent people suffer the consequences. We aim to cross out these self-perpetuating cycles of misconception and misunderstanding by presenting the facts accurately and without bias.
Our goal is to spread the message of non-discrimination and equality, so that we can make Singapore a better place for everyone, queer and straight, religious or non-religious, rich and poor.
May 15, 2010 (Saturday), 5:00pm - 6:30pm , Speakers’ Corner
You don’t have to be LGBT to come
You don’t have to have LGBT friends or family to come
Just like you don’t have to be a tree to protect the environment
Just like you don’t have to be an animal to be kind
Just like you don’t have to be a child to believe they have rights
This is a 100% legit, 100% family event.
Have you ever wondered why every country in the world seems to have women or children trafficked into the sex trade except Singapore?
Could it be that we’ve simply called them whores & overstayers here?
are doing a research study to determine the reality of sex trafficking and the sex trade in Singapore. The results would be out in the 3rd quarter of 2010, so do watch out for that (Info was shared at a bloggers’ outreach event where UNIFEM, BodyShop and H.O.M.E made presentations)
The ENTIRE proceeds (not just profits) of this handcream that customers purchase goes towards UNIFEM’s research project.
So the next time you need a gift for your friend —- Go grab a tube of handcream from BodyShop!
- Young, good-looking, healthy
- Unquestioningly obedient (best if does not know the english word for ‘No’)
- Will do all housework without complaints
- Will take care of all elderly parents, grandparents & kids(when available)
- Provides sex on demand
- 1-time payment of SGD 20,000 to the agent on satisfactory purchase
- No further monetary remuneration to be paid;Expenses incurred as a result of the above requirements will be reimbursed
- Will provide love & 3 meals a day.
I got my idea from here:
“We are the only agent in Singapore doing 100 per cent virgin.”
There is one Vietnam bride agency that says “Although you are old, handicapped or short, we can still arrange a young, beautiful Viet Nam wife for you!”
Over the last few days, Singapore witnessed the most exciting elections that has taken place in the country since 1959, the year that the PAP swept to power : The AWARE AGM2009 and the upcoming EGM. To quote the pastor of COOS, you have to be in a coma to not notice what has been going on.
In the briefest summary, Dr Thio Su Mien led a group of women, many of whom attend the church COOS on a crusade to take over the leadership, direction and management of AWARE. She claims the reason for the take over is AWARE’s liberal stance on homosexuality. She claims that AWARE teaches young girls about sex, and encourages them to be lesbians.
In the past weeks, we have witnessed Josie Lau – the appointed president, and her New Exco team FIRE Braema Mathi (Chair of Cedaw) and Schutz Lee (Manager of AWARE), push Claire Nazir ( the elected president ) , Constance Singham (immediate past president) and executive Joanna D’Cruz to resignation , made Caris Lim (Old Guard Exco member) walk out in tears and kept Chew I-Jin(Old Guard Exco member) out of the press conference. Subcomm heads are replaced. The staff has reported difficulties working with the New Exco — who go to the office every single day, to demand all the documents, which they scrutinize down to the last detail. They’ve also changed the locks to AWARE, where a lot of confidential client and research information is kept.
Many people have asked the question : If you disagreed with AWARE’s philosophy, why couldn’t you just set up another organization promoting your own philosophy? The only reason why you’ll take over an organization would be to silence it and stop the work it was doing. Many people believe this work they want to stop and silence is AWARE’s promotion of an inclusive and non-discriminatory society.
However, I am very puzzled. And this is why:
Mar 28 : AGM 09.
Apr 10 : ST reporter Wong Kim Hoh breaks the news, with a highly speculative piece, about the take over. I am shocked, and refuse to believe it. I say so in my Apr 11 blog post.
Apr 15: Josie Lau is appointed president.
Apr 16: Braema is terminated, with effect from the 28 Mar, the AGM.
“Kindly note that your term of office as chairman of the CEDAW
Committee has ceased at the date of the AGM on the 28 March 2009.
Kindly submit all the work in progess by Friday 17 April 2009 without fail.”
Up until then, the CSE team has not heard a word from the New Exco. I am a CSE trainer. Nobody else hears a word from the New Exco either, where CSE is concerned. There are whispers of the New Exco looking into the CSE material, but nothing OFFICIAL is said, unlike what they did with Cedaw. Because of the speculation that is going around online and offline about the fundamentalist stance of the New Exco, and their ties to the COOS church, the CSE team prepares a defense nevertheless. However, they continue to remain silent on CSE, until Apr 24.
Apr 24: They change the AWARE locks, they confess to the plot, Dr Thio Su Mien turns up.
CSE and Homosexuality is cited as the primary reason for their crusade.
It puzzles me that Dr Thio chose to interpret our CSE as promoting lesbianism — since her New Exco had been scrutinizing our material, surely she can’t be that stupid! She’s a lawyer!
It puzzles me that no one has even confronted CSE for nearly one month, not a single official word was mentioned , nor were we given warning.
And then CSE became THE reason at the Apr 24 press conference.
If it was just an ideological difference, why couldn’t they say earlier?
If it was an ideological difference, why did they have to scrutinize so many documents?
CSE was no secret — the material is freely available to the New Exco, and it has contents that only needs 3 hours to cover in a secondary school class! There were no fine prints – all the philosophy was written on my blog even!
And if it was just about replacing ideology, why the need to lie, and lie so badly too? (http://www.sgpolitics.net/?p=2784)
Even more puzzling, if it was CSE and the anti-homosexuality-discrimination they were trying to silence, why did they have to fire Braema, and demand all the Cedaw material immediately?
Why was it CEDAW that was under so much fire from the New Exco?
Why did they want to silence CEDAW as well?
What exactly was CEDAW?
“The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is a United Nations convention which seeks to end gender discrimination… In signing onto CEDAW, governments commit to undertake a series of measures to end discrimination against women. Every four years, signatories are required to send a report to the UN CEDAW Committee describing the measures they have taken to comply with the convention. …In order to get a comprehensive picture of the status of women in each country, the United Nations requests that local NGOs like AWARE submit CEDAW Shadow Reports, offering additional insight into the lives of women. In May 2007 AWARE submitted its second Shadow Report. It received excellent reviews from the United Nations CEDAW committee in New York.”
Braema was fired as the Chair of Cedaw – the AWARE Committee preparing and submitting this report.
AWARE’s last Shadow Reported submitted to the UN , 2007
Singapore’s State CEDAW reports to the UN, 2004 and 2007: http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/refworld/rwmain?page=publisher&publisher=CEDAW&skip=0&querysi=singapore&searchin=title&display=10&sort=date )
If you flip through the 2007 Shadow Report Aware submitted to the UN, you will realise that we touch on 2 potentially contentious areas.
In 10.6 – Sexuality Education, which mentions briefly ( 5 lines out of 143 pages) that homosexuality is criminal here.
And then there is this:
ARTICLE 6 TRAFFICKING AND EXPLOITATION OF PROSTITUTION OF WOMEN
In Singapore, groups like TWC2, HOME are claiming that under the definitions of some countries, but not Singapore’s, trafficking is a significant problem here. TOC has done some very good reports over the last year also, on the situation with transient construction workers. Construction is a huge industry in Singapore, and so plays an important economic role. Any changes is the labour laws are likely to affect many construction firms and projects here. However, the Cedaw report did not touch on construction —- it focused mainly on the women, in prostitution and domestic work.
I ran a google search with the terms “human trafficking Singapore”
Here’s only a small portion of what I found, and I picked only those dated after the 2007 Cedaw reports — ie the 2008 and 09 stuff.
ANNUAL TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS REPORT 2008
(Improvement of Singapore’s “Tier 2″ placement)
Singapore rejects US assessment of its record on human trafficking
Posted: 22 July 2008
CSE and pornography (Commercial Sexual Exploitation – CSE) continue to be major
demand-side factors across the region, burgeoning (often unfettered) commercial sexual
exploitation in destination countries providing ample incentive to traffickers to meet
Singapore is a destination country for young women for sexual exploitation from
Malaysia, China, Thailand, South Asia, and the Philippines. It is also likely a ‘circuit’
country for young women trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation from Central
Asia and Russia
US Department of state
You are in:
Singapore is a destination country for human trafficking. http://www.humantrafficking.org/countries/singapore
S’porean woman accused of human trafficking http://news.asiaone.com/News/AsiaOne%2BNews/Singapore/Story/A1Story20081219-109136.html
Sun, Dec 21, 2008 The New Paper
Emerging hotspots in human trafficking
Joe Fernandez | Apr 15, 09 3:21pm “The problem is that countries like Singapore have legalised prostitution. They do not see that anyone can be forced into prostitution. So, they are claiming there is no trafficking of sex slaves. Of course, we are challenging that claim,” Tenaganita director Irene Fernandez told the meet.
Human Rights Issues > Human Trafficking
Directory > Society and Culture > Issues and Causes > Human Rights > Modern Slavery > Human Trafficking
Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery
Republic of Singapore
NGO: Sabah among 3 human trafficking hotspots
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Pinay hooker in Singapore: Sex machine, punching bag
by Mar Empaynado from People’s Tonight Jul 28, 2008 at 06:05 PM
Women trafficked to Singapore lured into prostitution
Sep 1, 2008 SINGAPORE (AFP)
The Brothel in Singapore: Karin’s True Story of Slavery
by Amanda Kloer Published April 01, 2009 @ 04:08PM PST
India asks Singapore to curb trafficking racket
Oct 10, 2008
Trafficking of Filipinas in Singapore ‘unabated’–embassy :US to help curb transnational crime
By Veronica Uy INQUIRER.net First Posted 14:22:00 04/28/2008
Trafficking of Filipinas in Singapore at all-time high: report
Singapore – Human trafficking of Filipinas in Singapore has increased alarmingly to an all-time high to 212 cases in 2007, an annual report from the Philippine Embassy in Singapore said on Monday.
Human trafficking: The numbers don’t add up
Philippine Embassy says it’s on the rise here, but police reports show otherwise
TODAY Tuesday • February 5, 2008
Malaysia vows action on Myanmar human trafficking
By JULIA ZAPPEI,Associated Press Writer AP – Saturday, April 25
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Malaysia’s prime minister on Friday vowed to investigate a scathing report by U.S. lawmakers saying thousands of Myanmar refugees were handed over to human traffickers and ended up working in Thai brothels
The Singapore Citizen has commented on my previous article “How is life valued in Court ?” , disagreeing with some points, agreeing with others, and making good suggestions. Here is a reproduction of my reply to their article, in which I present new information, which I beg everyone to read, because these victims have almost no one in Singapore speaking up for them, whether in the mainstream or alternative media.
Dear Singapore Citizen,
Thank you for considering these cases and highlighting them on your blog. I’m very honored that you chose to comment on my thoughts.
I agree with you when you say that perhaps the law should be reviewed to allow judges more freedom in sentencing drug trafficking cases, rather than making the death sentence mandatory, so that various mitigating factors can be taken into consideration. You are certainly not cruel nor inhumane; your sympathy towards the youth and his ill mother is very heartening and commendable. I also agree with you that laws cannot be changed arbitrarily. Perhaps in this case appealing to the President’s clemency might help.
There are 2 other issues, however, which I beg you to consider, after which I would be curious to know if you would still maintain your stand.
Firstly, drug kingpins would not take MORE advantage of naïve youths to be drug runners, if the death penalty (whether mandatory or not ) was removed. On the contrary, the fact that it carries such a harsh sentence would mean that only the most naïve/ stupid or the most DESPERATE people would be willing to be exploited by the kingpins at the risk of death. By punishing the drug runners, we are punishing them for their stupidity and their desperate circumstances. The kingpins who intend to profit from the drug sale, which you rightly pointed out does much harm to society, would be protected (as the Straits Times pointed out, the mastermind remains unknown). I would agree with the government’s view that the mandatory death sentence serves as a good deterrent, but I’m sure you’ll agree that laws are meant to also serve justice, and punishment proportionate to the crime is an important aspect of punishment.
Secondly, and this is the more important issue, which I hope EVERYONE reading this would think about.
I refer to your statements “Comparison with human trafficking is not apt in this case, in my opinion. This is because the goods smuggled are inherently different.” and “prostitution is a different social ill, and quite different from drugs in its effects of harming society”
The greatest wrong done with human trafficking, is that HUMANs are treated as GOODS.
This was why slavery was wrong, and why slavery was outlawed. The reason why the 36 year old pimp should be punished, is NOT because of the social ill that the prostitute would bring about. The reason why he should be punished, is because of the wrong done to the HUMAN VICTIM being trafficked, and treated like a piece of goods devoid of human rights. This is unlike drug trafficking where the traffickers are punished for the ills the goods bring about. And this is also why, giving him a sentence of one year is as great an injustice as hanging a drug runner who was stupid and desperate, in my view.
Having said that, I do acknowledge that the 36 year old was not charged with human trafficking, but with arranging for paid sex between a minor (below 18) and an adult.
I’m speculating that’s because Singapore officially does not acknowledge that human trafficking is a problem here. A few of our neighboring countries differ from Singapore’s view however, because they have documented a significant number of trafficking cases involving their citizens. Singapore does not have a law specific to anti-trafficking; it uses other laws depending on the nature of the case. ( http://www.humantrafficking.org/countries/singapore) (Note: Singapore officially is not in full agreement with several reports listed here)
Trafficking is not restricted to cases where the trafficked victim is being kidnapped. It encompasses cases where “threat or use of force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or vulnerability, or giving payments or benefits to a person in control of the victim” is involved for the purposes of “exploitation, which includes exploiting the prostitution of others, sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery or similar practices and the removal of organs” (http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/human-trafficking/what-is-human-trafficking.html)
Many developed countries are receiving ends for human trafficking networks, and many developed countries acknowledge this problem and are taking steps to deal with it. It occurs especially when there is access for people moving from less developed nations to more developed nations. Singapore is in this situation where we, as a developed country, are surrounded by less developed countries, whose citizens can come in here fairly easily. The Council of Europe states that “people trafficking has reached epidemic proportions over the past decade, with a global annual market of about $42.5 billion.” Trafficking victims typically are recruited using coercion, deception, fraud, the abuse of power, or outright abduction. Threats, violence, and economic leverage such as debt bondage can often make a victim consent to exploitation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_trafficking )
In closing, I once again to beg you, and all readers, to reconsider your position of considering human trafficking a crime less severe than drug trafficking. I also hope, and encourage you to research more on human trafficking, and feature the information on your well-read blog. It is true, most trafficking cases in Singapore involve foreigners. But foreigners are human too, inherently deserving of human rights. We need to accord these foreigners human rights and justice, which is theirs, because the responsibility to bring an end to crime taking place on our soil, is ours.
A 19 year old, to hang at age 20, for being exploited by drug lords to deliver 47g of heroin
A 36 year old, fined $8000, for exploiting a 17 yr old girl, by bringing her in from china to become a prostitute, and living on her earnings. Ok his sentence was upped to 1 year.
The Health Minister, to ask parliament on Monday, to allow our society to kill our vulnerable, weak and suffering, without any criminal charge.
That’s just page8 of today’s TODAY. Turn to page18.
An entire nation prepares a funeral for 10 months and mourns the passing of an elderly woman.
Turn to page 24.
I wasn’t planning to write this post. I wanted to stick to what I knew, about health care and medical science.
But these events make me wonder about how we, as a human race, value LIFE.
I’m actually pro-death penalty. When I read about what Mr Fritzl has done, I’m pro-death penalty.
Then I read about human traffickers, bringing in young girls to Singapore to become prostitutes, and they are given free food and lodging in our change resort for 1 year. Girls who should be in seconday school, JC, poly. Girls who are not allowed to watch RA(21).
And a 19 year old. I can see all the 19 year olds. They were my JC classmates, they were my brother, my students, the NS boys tired out on the mrt, the boys still waiting to watch an RA(21) movie, the boys whom the state cannot trust to make a vote for their government.
A 19 year old, to hang at 20, for 47grams.
Add on: Had feedback that the post was not understandable enough (Thanks Daniel for feedback!), so here’s my point:
Looking at the difference in the sentences given for these 2 crimes, does it say something about the way these crimes are viewed? That exploiting and trafficking young girls gets you 1 yr, but stupidity (ie. being a teenager exploited to carry drugs for $2000) gets you death? What does that say about how human beings are valued, and how the punishments are so disproportionate in both extremes?
Daniel explains it well too, go check it out!