5 Oct 2005

Singapore to criminalise paid U-18 sex

The welcome change of attitude and criminalisation of paid sex with under 18's is a step in the right direction and seems to be the direct result of the US State Department report of 2004 which expressed its concern as follows;

Child prostitution occurred. Between January and November, approximately 1 percent of the 4,600 persons arrested for prostitution were found to be under age 18. In 2003, the Ministry of Home Affairs found 21 children under the age of 18 who it suspected were involved in prostitution; the figure for 2002 was 66. Sexual intercourse with girls under the age of 16 is illegal, but there is no legal prohibition on commercial sex with "consenting" partners aged 16 and 17. The authorities have the power to detain persons under the age of 21 who are believed to be engaged in prostitution, as well as to prosecute those who organize or profit from prostitution, who bring women or girls to the country for prostitution, or who coerce or deceive women or girls into prostitution. (US State Department Report on Human Rights in Singapore 2004)

Posted online: Tuesday, October 04, 2005 at 1059 hours IST

SINGAPORE, OCTOBER 4 : Anyone caught paying for sex with girls under 18 years of age in Singapore could be fined or jailed under proposed new laws, a newspaper said on Tuesday.

Under current laws, offenders face a jail term of up to five years and fines of S$10,000 ($5,910) if they have sex with those under 16.

The Ministry of Home Affairs, as part of its plans to reassess laws governing sexual offences, was also reviewing the Penal Code to allow for the prosecution of Singaporeans who have sex with minors overseas, the Straits Times reported.

The U.S. State Department report this year [unable to find 2005 report, 2004 report released Feb. 2005] said Singapore does not fully meet the minimum standards to stamp out the trafficking of women and girls for sex and had called for the government to reform its laws to criminalise the prostitution of 16- and 17-year-olds as a trafficking offence.

The report also called for the government to address child sex tourism by Singaporeans, particularly in the nearby Batam island of Indonesia.

The Singapore government refuted the report, saying that only four of the 34 claims of forced prostitution in the last three years had been substantiated.

Prostitution is legal in Singapore but soliciting is not. The government authorises the operation of brothels in red-light districts and does not criminalise the prostitution of 16- and 17- year-old minors.

According to the police, 38 of the 5,200 foreign sex workers arrested in 2004 were below 18 years of age. In the first half of this year, 22 out of the 1,700 illegal sex workers were under 18.

But experts and rights workers have said that the age of the sex workers, mostly from the villages of Thailand, Indonesia and Cambodia was difficult to track due to the lack of proper papers.

Related Links:
Conference on Tackling the Demand for Child Tourism and Sex Trafficking in East and Southeast Asia

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