Last Updated: Friday, 27 May 2016, 08:49 GMT

U.S. Department of State 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report - Singapore

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 3 June 2005
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report - Singapore, 3 June 2005, available at: [accessed 29 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Singapore (Tier 2)

Singapore is a destination country for a limited number of women and girls trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Some of the women and girls from the People's Republic of China (P.R.C.), Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam who travel to Singapore voluntarily for prostitution or non-sexual work are deceived or coerced into sexual servitude in the city-state. A small minority of foreign domestic workers in Singapore face seriously abusive labor conditions that amount to involuntary servitude, a severe form of trafficking.

The Government of Singapore does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. While Singapore has made improvements to its labor laws and regulations to address abuse of foreign domestic workers, it made limited progress in its efforts to combat trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation. Authorities in Singapore generally tolerate prostitution, which largely involves foreign women, a few of whom are trafficked. The government authorizes the operation of brothels in "traditional redlight districts" and does not criminalize the prostitution of adults and of 16 and 17 year-old minors. Pursuant to international protocols, the government should consider reforming its laws to criminalize the prostitution of 16 and 17 year-old children as a trafficking offense. The government should address child sex tourism by Singaporeans in foreign destinations, and do more to publicize the problem of trafficking for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation in these destinations, particularly Batam, Indonesia. Singapore should also consider adopting a comprehensive law, containing victim protection measures, for all forms of trafficking.


During the reporting period, the Singapore Government increased its efforts to curb abuses of foreign domestic workers. A small but significant number of Singapore's estimated 140,000 foreign domestic workers continued to experience abusive employment conditions that may amount to involuntary servitude, and the government vigorously prosecuted cases involving such allegations. Singapore does not have a consolidated anti-trafficking law, but its criminal code criminalizes all activities that fall under the UN definition of trafficking. Involuntary servitude is punishable by up to one year in prison, a fine, or both; wrongful confinement is punishable by up to nine years in prison, a fine, or both; slavery is punishable with up to ten years in prison, a fine, and caning. Laws against forced or coerced prostitution carry sentences of up to ten years' imprisonment. In 2004, there were no prosecutions reported for trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation; violators are often prosecuted under other statutes, such as those prohibiting third parties from living off the earnings of a prostitute. The government maintains effective border and immigration controls and there is no evidence that government officials are complicit in trafficking.


The government provided minimal assistance to trafficking victims in 2004. The government continued to lack a systematic procedure to identify trafficking victims among the foreign women detained for immigration or vice violations; there was no evidence of proactive screening during the detentions of over 4,600 foreign women for prostitution in 2004. The few victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation that are identified by authorities are generally referred to NGO shelters that offer counseling; foreign domestic workers who are victims of involuntary servitude or other abuse are referred to shelters run by their embassies or local NGOs, some of which provide legal assistance. The Singaporean Government, through the Ministry of Community Development, Youth, and Sports, provided counseling and health care for abused foreign domestic workers and victims of commercial sexual exploitation. There are no NGOs in Singapore that focus exclusively on trafficking, but there is one NGO devoted exclusively to helping women in prostitution, and victims often receive assistance from groups dedicated to helping abused women and children. There are several NGOs that assist foreign workers and seek the enactment of enhanced labor protections. The Ministry of Manpower continued to promote the welfare of foreign domestic workers by educating employees and employers on acceptable employment practices, establishing a hotline for foreign domestic workers, enhancing regulations, and undertaking a public outreach campaign on the rights and responsibilities of employers and foreign domestic workers.


The Singaporean Government made efforts to raise awareness of trafficking. The government sought to improve awareness of the regulations protecting foreign domestic workers and the consequences of violating those laws, and has taken some steps to raise societal awareness of sex tourism by Singaporeans in an effort to curb demand. There were no specific anti-trafficking campaigns directed at the use of fraud or coercion to recruit foreign women as prostitutes. Singapore has no national action plan to address trafficking.

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