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Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Poverty drives the unsuspecting poor into the hands of traffickers

Published reports & articles from 2000 to 2025                      

Republic of Singapore

Singapore has a highly developed and successful free-market economy. It enjoys a remarkably open and corruption-free environment, stable prices, and a per capita GDP higher than that of most developed countries. The economy depends heavily on exports, particularly in consumer electronics, information technology products, pharmaceuticals, and on a growing service sector. Over the long term, the government hopes to establish a new growth path that will be less vulnerable to global demand cycles, especially for information technology products - it has attracted major investments in pharmaceuticals and medical technology production - and will continue efforts to establish Singapore as Southeast Asia's financial and high-tech hub.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Singapore

Singapore is a destination country for women and girls trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Some women from Thailand and the Philippines who travel to Singapore voluntarily for prostitution or work are subsequently deceived or coerced into sexual servitude. Some foreign domestic workers are subject to conditions that may be indicative of labor trafficking, including physical or sexual abuse, confiscation of travel documents, confinement, inadequate food, rest, or accommodation, deceptions about wages or conditions of work, and improper withholding of pay. - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009  Check out a later country report here and possibly a full TIP Report here


CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Singapore.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Human Trafficking are of particular interest to you.  Would you like to write about Forced-Labor?  Debt Bondage? Prostitution? Forced Begging? Child Soldiers? Sale of Organs? etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to include precursors of trafficking such as poverty and hunger. There is a lot to the subject of Trafficking.  Scan other countries as well.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.

HELP for Victims

Police Force HQ: 6-353-0000   Emergency: 999
Country code: 65-



Commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking of children and young people in Singapore

Veronica Uy, Inquirer, Manila, 02/04/2008

[accessed 16 June 2017]

Long URL

[accessed 6 May 2020]

[PAGE 19]

TRAFFICKERS AND TRAFFICKING MECHANISMS - The modus operandi essentially has illegal recruiters promise young women non-existent jobs as waitresses or guest relations officers in restaurants and hotels in Singapore.  They are each charged a minimal S$100 to S$1,000 as recruitment fee in the Philippines, and given roundtrip tickets (sometimes the return ticket is fake), a fake invitation letter, and “show money” for showing to Philippine immigration officials who scrutinize their financial capacity as tourists.  Expecting to work in legitimate jobs, Filipinas end up working as prostitutes. They are forced to provide sexual services to customers and earn commissions from alcoholic drinks to enable them to pay the $1,000 to S$4,000 they allegedly owe their handlers.  The report said victims who fled to the embassy were provided shelter and assisted in their repatriation back to the Philippines. They are interviewed, their affidavit taken, and are advised to file a complaint either in Singapore or in the Philippines.


*** ARCHIVES ***

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Singapore

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 23 June 2021]


Practices indicative of forced labor, including withholding of wages and passports, occurred. Migrant workers in low-wage and unskilled sectors such as domestic work, hospitality, and construction were vulnerable to labor exploitation. Several NGOs reported that migrant workers did not receive their salary during the country’s COVID-19 lockdown in spite of government efforts to require construction sector employers to make monthly declarations on the payment of salaries to their foreign workers. The Ministry of Manpower acknowledged that some employers were unable to pay salaries owed due to financial difficulties but also indicated the ministry would work with them to provide for salary payment.

Some observers also noted that the country’s employer sponsorship system made legal migrant workers vulnerable to forced labor because there are limited circumstances in which they may change employers without the consent of their employer.


The incidence of children in formal employment was low, although some children worked in family enterprises.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 8 July 2020]


Singapore’s inhabitants generally benefit from considerable economic opportunity, but some types of workers face disadvantages. The country’s roughly 200,000 household workers are excluded from the Employment Act and are regularly exploited. Several high-profile trials of employers in recent years have drawn public attention to the physical abuse of such workers. Laws and regulations governing their working conditions have modestly improved formal protections over the past decade, but the guarantees remain inadequate. In 2018, the Ministry of Manpower issued a new work-permit condition that banned employers from holding the paid wages and other money of foreign household workers for safekeeping. Existing laws such as the Foreign Worker Dormitories Act of 2015 are intended to ensure the food and shelter needs of foreign workers. However, illegal practices such as passport confiscation by employers remain common methods of coercion, and foreign workers are vulnerable to exploitation and debt bondage in the sex trade or industries including construction and manufacturing.

India asks Singapore to curb trafficking

Press Trust of India, New Delhi, October 10, 2008

[accessed 7 September 2014]

[accessed 23 February 2019]

After five girls from Manipur were rescued in Kuala Lumpur, India is now asking the Singapore government to take action against the maid placement agency that allegedly ran a human trafficking racket across many northeastern states.  The maid placement agency Abel and Joe is registered with the Singapore government and has sent girls abroad from the northeast.  The Indian embassy in Singapore has been asked to take up the matter with the government there. Earlier, after the girls fled from a Kuala Lumpur nightclub, the Malaysian government helped the girls with arrangements for their return back home.

Trafficking of Filipinas in Singapore 'unabated'--embassy

Veronica Uy, Inquirer, Manila, 04/28/2008

[accessed 22 December 2010]

In November 2007, posted a special report on the growing number of young Filipino women being lured to Singapore on the false promise of a high-paying job only to end up in prostitution.  The increased incidence of trafficking of Asian women, including Filipinas, to Singapore prompted the United States State Department to downgrade the city-state's rating from Tier 1 in 2006 to Tier 2 this year.

Philippine Ambassador to Singapore Belen Fule-Anota said Filipinas who want to work overseas must scrutinize their recruiters in the Philippines well and ensure they have valid contracts before leaving the country.  She also advised jobseekers to have their contracts duly verified by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) "before packing their bags for Singapore."

New Philippine Film Raises Awareness of Sex Trafficking In Singapore

Alto Broadcasting System-Chronicle Broadcasting Network ABS-CBN, January 20, 2008

[accessed 22 December 2010]

Mona ends up in a brothel in Singapore after falling victim to a sweet-talking illegal recruiter.  A victim of human trafficking, Mona makes the best out of her situation in order to send money back home to her family.

TRUE STORY - According to director Jowee Morel, “Mona Singapore Escort” exposes the reality of white slavery in Singapore, which counts Filipinas among its victims.  Despite Singapore's reputation as a strict, law-abiding society and its hardline stance on crime (the Singapore government has put to death even foreigners found guilty in illegal drugs cases), Morel said human trafficking and sexual slavery are disturbing realities in Singapore.

Letter to Gov. Kulongoski

Michu Uaiyue, June 12, 2007

[accessed 22 December 2010]

[scroll down]

In 2004 the Akha woman Ms. Amue Athu, from Chiangrai Province in Thailand, was trafficked to the south of Thailand to a job, that turned out to be a job in a brothel. The Thai traffickers Ms. Chatkaew Sripormma and her husband then sent Ms. Amue Athu to Singapore to work in a brothel there. Ms. Amue Athu refused the job and was sent out of Singapore. The Singapore authorities made no attempt to assist her, despite the fact that she could not speak Chinese, Thai or any other language but Akha and was being led by a “courier” who was to deliver her to the brothel. The Singapore authorities state they banned Ms. Amue Athu, but it is unclear from court documents that she understood this due to her different language.  Upon her return to Thailand, Ms. Amue Athu was made to work as a sex slave at the brothel to pay off her new debt for failing to “work out” in Singapore.

Disasters Increase Risk of Human Trafficking

Rofiqi Hasan, TEMPO Interactive, Denpasar, 08 November, 2006,20061108-87306,uk.html

[accessed 22 December 2010]

The crimes are many forms: distribution of 880 babies from North Sumatra to Singapore by a foundation, for instance.  The babies, she explained, were re-sold when they arrived in Singapore.  If they were caught in action at sea, the babies were often thrown out of board so as to wipe the evidence.

Microsoft Uses Grants To Help Alleviate Human Trafficking

Josephine Roque, All Headline News AHN, Manila, Philippines, June 15, 2006

At one time the source article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 11 September 2011]

Microsoft Corp. has released grants worth more than $1 million to six Asian countries to deal with human trafficking by providing computer skills.

Called the "Unlimited Potential," the grants were distributed throughout: Cambodia, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

Why Does Singapore Imprison the Victims of Trafficking?

October 28, 2006

[accessed 22 December 2010]

ONGOING CASES - 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.

Singapore slams US report on human trafficking, maid abuse

Agence France Presse AFP, SINGAPORE, August 30, 2004

[accessed 22 December 2010]

[accessed 15 January 2020]

Singapore on Monday, Aug 30, strongly rejected a US government report alleging that an illicit trade in Asian prostitutes and the "involuntary servitude" of some foreign maids exists in the city-state.  "While Singapore is not spared from vice activities, forced prostitution is very rare here," the Ministry of Home Affairs said.

"A small minority of foreign domestic workers face seriously abusive labor conditions," it said, adding that "in a few such cases, these circumstances may amount to involuntary servitude."

Comments on the 2004 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report on Singapore by the United States Department of State [DOC]

Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore, 2004

[accessed 14 February 2015]

Singapore shares the concerns of the US Government on the problem of trafficking in persons.  We have, through the years, put in place legislation and devoted law enforcement resources to confront the problem.  We have therefore succeeded in keeping trafficking in persons to a minimal level.  We continually monitor the situation.

Human Rights Overview

Human Rights Watch

[accessed 6 May 2020]

Singapore’s political environment is stifling. Citizens face severe restrictions on their basic rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly through overly broad criminal laws and regulations. In 2017, the country tightened the already strict limits on public assemblies contained in the Public Order Act, which requires police permits for any “cause-related” assembly outside the closely monitored “Speakers’ Corner.” The rights of the LGBT community are severely curtailed: sexual relations between men remains a criminal offense, and there are no legal protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.


Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 11 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – In 2004 there were three prosecutions, two of which involved forced prostitution, and one of which involved bringing a woman into the country under false pretenses for the purpose of prostitution. The latter case involved a Sri Lankan woman, who was recruited in Sri Lanka and told she would be a maid, but was forced into prostitution. Her two "vice abettors" were each fined $15,476 (S$26 thousand).

The police and other elements of the government were widely recognized to be both effective and among the least corrupt such institutions to be found. There were no reports of any official involvement in trafficking in persons.

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