A 17-year old minor girl, in Singapore, faced the worst nightmare of her life when she was sexually abused by her 60-year old male neighbour, the one person she mistook to be her confidante. The man, however, was sentenced to two years' jail by a district court on Wednesday, November 1.
The minor confided in him about her family problems. She did not hesitate to open up about the fact that she had been raped. The man went on abusing her by pimping her. The man, whose name cannot be disclosed in order to protect the victim's identity, has been accused of procuring the girl for the purpose of prostitution and for forcing commercial flesh trade of a minor.
Known for its nightlife, brothels, karaoke lounges and infamous massage parlours, Singapore houses prostitution as a legal activity, however, pimping and public solicitation is not. Private social escort firms openly advertise the services of young, intelligent and energetic girls. Women who are a part of the prostitution racket and are in their 20s are paid S$150-200 per hour and S$1,000 per night. Brothels operate openly in Geylang red light district.
Ever since the days of Karayuki-san, or Japanese prostitutes who were part of an age-old Singaporean tradition in the 18th century, prostitution was not something illegal in Singapore but criminalising the whole act as flesh trade has forced authorities to step in. Even public solicitation, for instance, is not legal in Singapore.
There are as many as 400 brothels, each containing 10 to 20 prostitutes or a total number of an estimated 6,000 prostitutes, all carrying the yellow health card. Apart from the registered sex workers, there are unregistered freelancers who are a major part of this trade.
Blue collar workers who flock to dimly lit bars and karaoke parlours in Geylang district or Orchard Road are the potential customers while streetwalkers are gradually spreading themselves out to residential corners and suburban areas.
From high-class flesh business to open prostitution, the Singaporean government has taken a pragmatic approach with regulatory laws making the trade abide by the norms so that they can ward off criminal involvement, especially keeping minor girls away from it. Health of the sex workers is regularly monitored.