Emancipasia is founded by Sylvia Lee. It is a 100% volunteer run, non profit Singapore registered organisation whose work focuses on raising awareness about human trafficking, a crime against humanity.
We use different channels to disseminate information on human trafficking to empower individuals, communities and businesses to help to combat human trafficking. For example, we have a roving photography exhibition, titled “Bought and Sold: Voices of Human Trafficking” an ArtWorks for Freedom exhibition by photographer Kay Chernush which moves around Singapore. We hold monthly Film Forum on the subject, free of charge to the public. Information can be found in our website www.emancipasia.org
This initiative was conceived in late 2010. EmancipAsia was registered in March 2012.
We collaborate with other NGOs like HOME, TWC2, World Vision, UNWomen where appropriate. We work closely with the Singapore Government’s InterAgency Taskforce. Our work is in line with the National Plan of Action against Trafficking in Person.
We are funded 100% by donation. Money raised will be used to fund all our work,. EmancipAsia is a 100% volunteer run organisation which does not have overhead costs. All money goes to projects.
Please write cheque to "EmancipAsia ltd." and send to 2 International Business Park, #11-06 The Strategy, S609930. Donation information is in our website www.emancipasia.org
We are organising an outdoor event, ‘STEPS in the Park’ on 5 April 2014 (please refer to our www.emancipasia.org and our Facebook page facebook.com/EmancipAsia for more information). We will continue to organise events such as drama, experiential learnings to depict the social issue and to engage youths and the general public through acting and forum theatre. We also plan to bring the drama to schools. We also give talks at schools, universities and corporations. Please visit our website for updates.
The UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons defines Trafficking in Persons ("TIP") as
"the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs."
For men on the street, it is interchangeable with modern day slavery where people are forced to work or exploited at work without the freedom to walk away. It is a business transaction is somebody is profiteering or benefiting from it.
It is important to note that the consent of the trafficked person becomes irrelevant whenever any of the 'means' of trafficking is used.
There are four main differences between human trafficking and migrant smuggling:
1. The transnationality.
Smuggling always involves the illegal crossing of a border. After crossing the borders, the person is generally free to go. In the case of trafficking in persons, this may occur both domestically and by crossing of borders.
2. The issue of exploitation.
The relationship between the smuggler and the smuggled migrant usually ends after the crossing of the border, while the relationship between the trafficker and the victim is an ongoing process of exploitation at the destination point.
3. The source of profit.
The smuggler generates income through a one-off transaction by facilitating the illegal entry of a person into another country, whereas the continuous exploitation of the trafficked victim at the destination point generates the ongoing profit of a trafficker.
The distinctions between smuggling and trafficking are often very subtle and sometimes they overlap. Identifying whether a case is one of human trafficking or migrant smuggling and related crimes can be very difficult for a number of reasons:
a. Some trafficked persons might start their journey by agreeing to be smuggled into a country illegally, but find themselves deceived, coerced or forced into an exploitative situation later in the process (by e.g. being forced to work for extraordinary low wages to pay for the transportation);
b. Traffickers may present an 'opportunity' that sounds more like smuggling to potential victims. They could be asked to pay a fee in common with other people who are smuggled. However, the intention of the trafficker from the outset is the exploitation of the victim. The 'fee' was part of the fraud and deception and a way to make a bit more money;
c. Smuggling may be the planned intention at the outset but a 'too good to miss' opportunity to traffic people presents itself to the smugglers/traffickers at some point in the process.
In UNODC's Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, sexual exploitation was noted as by far the most commonly identified form of human trafficking (79%) followed by forced labour (18%). In many countries, statistics are not representative of the situation as many cases are not reported.
Human trafficking is a global problem and exists in every country, both developing and developed. Singapore is a destination country for men, women, and girls from China, India, the Philippines, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Thailand, Vietnam, and elsewhere in Southeast Asia, trafficked to Singapore for labour and sex and domestic servitude. Any country, such as Singapore, which employs high number of foreign workers is an attractive destination for human trafficking.
Some women are recruited through offers of legitimate employment and deceived about the nature or conditions of the prospective work. Others enter Singapore with the intention of engaging in prostitution but upon arrival are subjected to forced prostitution under the threat of serious harm, including financial harm. Child sex trafficking also occurs in Singapore.
The conditions under which some foreign workers and foreign domestic workers are employed in Singapore could render them victims of human trafficking. We cannot generalise. Each case has to be assessed.
Everybody is involved. Human trafficking is driven by our demand for low costs products and services and demand for commercial sex. Many of the products that are sold and consumed in Singapore are tainted with work of the victims. Awareness is the first step towards stopping human trafficking.
While it may be difficult to assess with certainty whether a product is tainted with slavery in its supply chain, a particularly low price product that require labour in its manufacturing process may be an indication that the workers did not receive a fair compensation for his or her work.
It is also useful to conduct your own research about the particular brands that you buy. There are websites and apps such as http://www.free2work.org/ and http://slaveryfootprint.org/ which help in navigating this complex issue.
General reading up about modern day slavery will reveal products such as shrimps, garments, electronics, tea, carpets, coffee, chocolates and so on are tainted with slavery in their supply chains.
The number of convictions is increasing, but unfortunately not proportionately to the growing awareness and extent of the problem. There are several likely reasons for the low number of convictions of human traffickers. One of the reasons is the absence of anti-trafficking legislation in some countries such as Singapore. Other challenges include :
- the need for cross border co-operation when victims are trafficked from outside Singapore
- law enforcement officials and prosecutors not being properly trained
- the unwillingness of victims to cooperate with the criminal justice system when they have been threatened and intimidated by traffickers.
Even when traffickers are prosecuted, the sentences are disproportionate to the severity of the crime as compared to trafficking of drugs and arms.
While identifying human trafficking may be difficult, victims of human trafficking may exhibit one or several of the following:
• Evidence of being controlled either physically or psychologically;
• Inability to leave home or place of work;
• Inability to speak for oneself or share one’s own information;
• Information is provided by someone accompanying the individual;
• Loss of control of one’s own identification documents (ID or passport);
• Have few or no personal possessions;
• Owe a large debt that the individual is unable to pay off; or
• Loss of sense of time or space, not knowing where they are or what city or state they are in.
Call the Police and report what you see and know. Your simple action may save a life or prevent an innocent person from being enslaved and victimised.
If you suspect that a foreign domestic helper is being trafficked, you may provide Ministry of Manpower with information on suspected infringements or offences involving foreign domestic workers (e.g. illegal employment or deployment, salary dispute, etc) using the Feedback on Well-Being Foreign Domestic Worker form at www.mom.gov.sg.
You may also call the helpline for Distressed Foreign Domestic Workers at 1800 339 5505 (or +65 6339 5505 for overseas callers).
Examples of what you can do are :
• Find out more about human trafficking by reading
• Inform your friends about the issue and talk about it
• If you see anything suspicious, report to police
• Understand the supply chain of products sold and consumed in Singapore; make informed consumer choices whenever you can and buy selectively.
• Understand the employment conditions of foreign workers and foreign domestic workers and help to prevent labour trafficking and domestic servitude in Singapore
• Donate to and support work that helps survivors to rebuild their lives
• Build capabilities in poor communities to help to alleviate poverty which is one of the root causes of human trafficking
In theory, it does seem better for the poor to be engaged in low-paying jobs rather than to be jobless and begging on the streets. However, the problem arises when the poor are exploited for profit and children are deprived of education.
With reference to “Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 23” :
(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
The poor, coupled with their illiteracy and scant knowledge of their rights, are vulnerable and susceptible to being taken advantage of by their employers. They are subjected to exploitative situations and are denied fair wages and forced to work in slave-like conditions, some of which include the loss of freedom and abuses. Sometimes, such exploitation results in a host of psychological, physical and emotional problems. Death may even occur in extreme cases.
It is unacceptable to exploit those who have no reasonable alternatives where underpaid or unpaid labour is exchanged for survival. All societies must provide for reasonable sustenance and basic physiological needs such as food, water, shelter. When these are not met, the exploited are obvious targets for traffickers who would offer food and job in exchange for their children.