Saturday, May 25, 2013
The price: $1,500.
When she was recruited in Vietnam, she knew she was coming to work as a prostitute and hostess, police investigations here revealed.
She had sex with her first customer in October 2008, soon after arriving in Singapore.
But it hurt and she refused to continue working.
Her pimp physically abused her and the girl was forced to have sex with another customer, according to court documents.
Her pimp, Vietnamese national Ngo Tien, 31, kept $1,000 as part of the "contract money" used to arrange for her to come to Singapore to work as a hostess and prostitute.
Ngo worked with her husband, Seng Swee Meng, 41.
The girl was one of four Vietnamese teens, aged 16 and 17, who were made to work for the vice syndicate. They were all virgins.
They were part of a group of 30 Vietnamese women rounded up by police officers last August.
Fifteen of them, including the four teens, were managed by Seng, 42.
Seng was jailed for five years on April 11.
He had four charges of harbouring prostitutes, four counts of receiving them at Changi Airport, four counts of living in part on earnings of prostitution, two counts of abetting to obtain commercial sex with minors and one count of managing a place where the sex workers were assigned.
Thirty-six other charges for similar offences were taken into consideration during sentencing.
The girls, who ranged in age from 16 to 29, were recruited by agents in Vietnam.
Police investigations here revealed that the women were told they would be working as hostesses and prostitutes here.
But did the girls who were under 18 know what they were getting themselves into?
That's why civil society groups are calling for tougher laws.
Before leaving their homes, they were told they would have to repay their air fare and contract money to Seng and Ngo.
Once here, they ended up working in pubs in Joo Chiat and Geylang.
Seng, bedecked with gold jewellery, operated out of a coffee shop in Geylang.
The women were afraid of him and he watched them like a hawk.
He also held their money for them.
When a unit in Lorong 35 Geylang that was occupied by Seng was raided, $44,310 and US$300 (S$375) was seized, along with jewellery and electronic gadgets.
He was not home during the raid and his wife and daughter had left for Vietnam two days earlier.
He turned himself in after police contacted him.
Ngo is on the run. The whereabouts of her older brother, known as Ba and who was also involved in the syndicate, is not known.
Her younger sister, Ngo Ngoc, 27, was jailed for 18 months on April 12.
She had admitted to three counts of harbouring prostitutes, one count of receiving a sex worker at Changi Airport and one count of living in part on earnings of prostitution.
Eight more charges for similar offences were taken into consideration during sentencing.
An advocate of women's rights, Ms Saleemah Ismail, 43, said some young women may have come here willingly, knowing they will be working as prostitutes.
Ms Saleemah has been with the United Nations Development Fund for Women (Unifem) Singapore since 2003 and was its president for four years.
She said if the girls are underage, their awareness of the eventual job they will do here is irrelevant because they are still children.
Ms Saleemah, who is also co-chair of the UN Women Anti-Trafficking Committee, said: "Even if a child says, 'Yes, I want to work in a brothel,' how can you take the word of a child?"
She has visited Indonesia, Cambodia and Thailand, where she has met underage prostitutes.
Ms Saleemah said that many of the girls told her they accepted what was happening to them as fate and that there was no hope for them.
She said: "That's the saddest part - when a child loses hope. And we can't allow that to happen."
This article was first published in The New Paper.