28 Oct 2006
Akha Human Rights - Akha University
Akha Woman Imprisoned in Singapore's Changi Prison - Why Does Singapore Imprison the Victims of Trafficking?
We request her release.
We know there are MORE Akha women in the Changi prison.
How many Akha women are in Changi Prison?
We request to know the answer.
We are concerned that the government of Singapore does not recognize the issue of trafficking and that Akha women are trafficked into their country for brothels. The Singapore Immigration people (ICA) have repeatedly told us that they are "checking into the case" but then never reply to our email.
We are informed that there numerous Akha women in Changi prison, possibly also victims of trafficking into Singapore. Does Singapore arrest victims of trafficking? We find it disgusting that Singapore allows women to be trafficked into the country for what ever reasons. We find it more disgusting that they put the victims in prison.
Ms. Ah Meeh (Not her real name) was sentenced to one year in Changi Prison this last week. She entered Singapore on documents supplied by her Employment Agent from Thailand but was refused a work permit and sent out of the country in 2004. Now on her own documents, Thai ID card and Passport, she has entered Singapore with her fiance. When she applied for an extension of visa as she and her fiance were to marry, the Singapore authorities told her that she had previously traveled under a different name and passport supplied by her employer, so was now to be arrested.
Upon her previous trip and return to Thailand, her employer told her that the Singapore police demanded 100,000 baht and she was made to repay this money working in Hatyai.
When Akha children are born, Thai authorities often give them a Thai name on their travel documents and any made up birth date. Employers often supply the Akha with documents for travel, as they may not even have an ID card of their own. These are the agreements they have to live with as contract labor. In some cases, contract labor may be more like trafficking or debt bondage. While it appears that Ms. Ah Meeh's employer was familiar to the Singapore police, Ms. Ah Meeh is being made to pay the price for what is often standard practice for people being shipped from Thailand to foreign countries.
There is little to no protection for ethnic women who find themselves in this situation in Thailand.
We have contacted the Singapore Embassy and Ambassador in the US, the ICA in Singapore, an MP in Singapore, Amnesty International and a number of individuals and agencies regarding this case. We are asking that her case be reviewed and that Akha women are not made to pay the price for either trafficking or unethical Agents who put them in these situations. We are asking that she be released and NOT deported from Singapore.
You may write us if you would like to contact the Singapore Embassy regarding this case.
Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women
H.O.M.E. Migrants Rights
Singapore Prison Service
Singapore Embassy Washington DC