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Global people trafficking: What Singapore is doing to combat the trade

By: Katie Roberts

Globally, people trafficking is the third largest illegal activity, behind arms and drugs. It’s a heinous trade which some describe as modern day slavery. According to sobering statistics the average age of a trafficked victim is 14 and two-thirds of victims are women forced into commercial sex. Singapore is not immune from human trafficking, indeed the United Nations says most countries are affected in some way. This is the UN’s own visual definition of the trade:


There is work being done in Singapore by the government and activists to combat the trade, but we as individuals can do something too.

What Singapore is doing about people trafficking

A Private Members Bill is currently being debated to introduce a law against human trafficking in Singapore. Introduced by MP Christopher de Souza this would be a dedicated piece of legislation to criminalise the trafficking of persons for the purpose of sexual exploitation, labour exploitation and exploitation by the removal of organs. Read more and offer feedback until 18 April on The Traffic In Persons Bill. Read about Singapore’s Inter-Agency Tackforce on Trafficking in Persons.

Advocates of the cause

Actress Eunice Olsen believes that everybody can do something. The former nominated Member of Parliament was so moved that she made a film in co-production with UN Women in Singapore, 3.50 How Much Is A Life Worth? $3.50 is the cost of a prostitute in the Cambodian capital. The film has been backed by NGO’s as an accurate depiction of the situation in Phnom Penhs’ sex trafficking industry, commenting that the main perpetrators that have been identified in recent research are domestic. Support the movie by attending a public screening: 12 – 16 April and 1 – 4 May on weekdays at 7.30pm and weekends at 3pm and 7.30pm. Buy tickets from The Arts House.


What you can do
Take a look at UN Women Singapore Committee’s Sound Out Against Sex Trafficking and Stop Child Sex campaigns. The Stop Child Sex campaign suggests everyone can take a stand:

  • End the culture of silence
  • Be vigilant and report abuse, be it at home or as a tourist overseas.
  • Take part in talks and workshops that specifically address the issues of child prostitution and trafficking in the region
  • Support organizations that work towards ending child prostitution

Find lots of in-depth information in a recent Straits Times report on 22 March, which highlights examples of people trafficking and worker exploitation in Singapore. You’ll need to be a subscriber to read the full story or see the abridged version

Watch the film trailer: 3.50 How Much Is A Life Worth?