By Finder Blogger: Andrea McKenna
Human trafficking: it happens everywhere, even in Singapore
“I can’t even.”
It’s a phrase I see a lot in social media when people are so distraught by a subject that they “can’t even” express how they feel about it.
That’s pretty much how I feel when I hear about human trafficking, the exploitation of people (including women and children) for labor or sex.
“It doesn’t happen here.”
That’s another phrase I hear, particularly in reference to human trafficking because people cannot believe it happens where they live.
The fact is, it does happen, even here in Singapore.
Human trafficking in Singapore
I’ve heard people joking about Orchard Towers (known as the Four Floors of Whores) as well as red light establishments in Geylang.
I don’t think it’s funny. It is entirely probable that these women are not “working” there by choice.
But nobody wants to think about it because they “can’t even.”
I was recently checking out Hagar, an organization that operates here in Singapore to aid and rehabilitate victims of human trafficking. Hagar offers shelter, support, legal help and reintegration, among other services.
The Singapore government has been cracking down on human trafficking, when in 2014 it passed a bill that charges perpetrators under the Prevention of Human Trafficking Act. At that time, Hagar was appointed to train over 3,000 police officers to help identify victims and get them help.
In 2015, Hagar launched the first Trauma Recovery and Safe Transit Resettlement program for victims of sex trafficking who are trafficked into Singapore.
I feel better knowing the government here is taking action to help people in these circumstances here and, frankly, I’m sick of people joking about it because they can’t deal with the reality that these people are suffering.
One of the survivor stories on the Hagar website talks about a woman who believed that her life of sex trafficking was just how things were when you were born a girl. Can you “even” now?
I know people joke because it’s a heavy subject.
And people often feel there is nothing they can do to change the world. But combating human trafficking is something everyone can work to eradicate.
Here’s how you can help:
1. You can donate to Hagar through their website hagar.org.sg.
2. You can also by volunteer your personal time to work with victims or even donate your services, such as graphic design, photography, video editing and copywriting.
3. Organize an event, like a charity run or dinner, to help support Hagar.
I think the point is compassion in action. We can’t just sit back and do nothing. As you reflect on your year, think about giving to this kind of life-changing charity.
One other way you can help trafficked victims is to simply see them. If you see something, say something. Singapore now has police officers trained and there are places like Hagar to help.
Don’t make jokes. You can “even.”
About Andrea McKenna
Andrea McKenna Brankin is journalist and author from the United States who lives a full life with bipolar disorder. Her book, Bipolar Phoenix, is awaiting a publishing contract. She is also currently a volunteer at the DaySpring Residential Treatment Centre for teen girls in Singapore, providing befriending-family support, therapeutic writing and rugby coaching.