Singapore

Is selling sex criminalised?

Sex work is legal but soliciting in public for the purposes of sex work is criminalised under section 19 of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act. There is a two tier system in Singapore of workers operating in approved brothels being free from police attention but "illegal" workers being heavily targeted in police crackdowns.

Is buying sex criminalised?

No

Is organising/managing criminalised?

Yes brothel keeping and living on earnings illegal under Women's Charter although a regime of informal legalisation operates. Procuring, managing a brothel and living on the earnings of sex work all criminal offences however there are designated Red Light Districts in Singapore that are regulated by the police. Within these red light districts there are premises that are "approved" by the police. There is a licensing system, meaning workers operating in the approved premises are issued a health card and work permit, and must have regular testing. Amendments to the Women's Charter were introuced in 2019, which created harsher penalties for illegal brothel-keeping and created liability for landlords and property owners to ensure tenants not using premises for 'illegal prostitution'.

Is there mandatory HIV/STI testing?

Yes for workers operating in "approved brothels". For workers operating in "approved" brothels in the designated red light districts, they must undergo regular testing every month. Registered masseuses must also undergo regular testing (every 6 months) to maintain a massage license. It is an open secret that sexual services are offered in most massage parlours. Sex workers operating outside of these regulated venues are not required to undergo any mandatory testing.

Is there mandatory registration?

Sex workers working in "approved" brothels must register and go through interview process to be approved for working there.

If sex work is regulated, is it in line with other work, or are the regulations unfair or overly restrictive?

No it is not regulated in line with other work. There are heavy restrictions placed on regulated brothels and the women who work in them. They cannot work outside of designated brothel, cannot have a Singaporean boyfriend or husband, cannot drink alcohol in public or go to nightclubs.

Are there travel restrictions that apply only or specifically to sex workers?

The immigration act states that sex workers are prohibited migrants: 8.—(1) " Any person, not being a citizen of Singapore, who is a member of any of the prohibited classes as defined in subsection (3) or who, in the opinion of the Controller, is a member of any of the prohibited classes, is a prohibited immigrant." (e) "any prostitute or any person who is living on or receiving or who, prior to entering Singapore, lived on or received the proceeds of prostitution." There are also reports that after a woman has worked for a period of time in a regulated brothel in Singapore that she can then be barred from re-entering the country.

Is sex work recognised as work?

No

Is sex work decriminalised with limited regulation?

No

Sources/further reading

<p>UNDP et al (2012) Sex Work and the Law in Asia and the Pacific: Laws, HIV and human rights in the context of sex work, available at <a href="http://www.undp.org/content/dam/undp/library/hivaids/English/HIV-2012-S…; UNDP (2015) HIV and the Law in South-East Asia, available at <a href="http://www.asia-pacific.undp.org/content/dam/rbap/docs/Research%20&%20P…; Immigration Act: <a href="https://sso.agc.gov.sg/Act/IA1959#pr8-">https://sso.agc.gov.sg/Act/IA19…; <a href="https://irblaw.com.sg/learning-centre/prostitution-in-singapore/">https…; Project X website and CEDAW report to 68th session Commercial Sex in Singapore: HIV, STDs and other pitfalls (<a href="http://www.drtanandpartners.com/commercial-sex-in-Singapore-hiv-stds-an…;) Police Camera in Action Signapore's Sex Industry (<a href="http://www.foxhedgehog.com/2015/02/police-camera-in-action-singapores-s…;) Miscellaneous Offences Act - <a href="http://statutes.agc.gov.sg/aol/search/display/view.w3p;page=0;query=Doc…; Women's Charter - <a href="http://statutes.agc.gov.sg/aol/search/display/view.w3p;page=0;query=Doc…; Women's Charter Amendment Bill 2019 - <a href="https://sso.agc.gov.sg/Bills-Supp/29-2019/Published/20191007?DocDate=20…; <a href="https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/parliament-passes-law-stamp-out-p…; <a href="https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/prostitution-sex-work-tr…;

Extra info

While selling sex and organising/managing sex work are criminalised there are designated Red Light Districts in Singapore that are regulated by the police. Within these red light districts there are premises that are "approved" by the police. There is no official licensing system. Workers operating in the approved premises are issued a health card and must have regular testing.

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