Victims do not want to work – StopTraffickingSG responses to this claim

Channel News Asia (CNA) in their article published on 21 Oct 2014 “Protecting victims’ rights the key to human trafficking Bill’s success: Activists” quoted MP Christopher De Souza who said that the trafficked victims he spoke to did not want to work which explained his reluctance to include the right to work in the anti-trafficking bill.

StopTraffickingSG responses to Mr Christopher De Souza in an email to CNA below.

Dear CNA,

As a participant in the StopTraffickingSG campaign, I hope that you’ll let me respond to Mr Christopher de Souza’s comment on the whether a right to work should form part of the anti-human trafficking bill that he is moving.

Mr de Souza says, “The people with whom I have spoken – ladies who unfortunately would come under the ambit of sexual trafficking – they did not want to work. That is one of the reasons why not putting in a
one-size-fits-all right for everybody is useful.”

From this statement, it seems that we are talking past each other. No-one involved in the StopTraffickingSG campaign would want a woman who has been trafficked into sexual exploitation to be returned to similar conditions. If what she wants is simply to return home, she should be enabled to do that as soon as possible.

However, in its proposals, the StopTraffickingSG campaign is thinking of the whole range of people who have been trafficked into some form of labour exploitation. For all of them, the primary incentive for
going to work abroad, which was exploited to the full by their traffickers, was the desire to earn money to support their families and themselves.

They have seen little or nothing of the money they were promised
when they agreed to leave their homes. If, when they have the chance to free themselves, they are not given the opportunity to work and earn, not only will they be unable to make good some of the losses they suffered, but they will be discouraged from remaining in Singapore while their own cases are settled.

Not only would this mean that an injustice to them could go unpunished, but that those who inflicted it might remain at liberty to repeat their offence.

In short, whether out of a sense of justice for a victim of trafficking or considerations of punishing and preventing trafficking in the future, it would seem very advisable to seek to provide work for the victims of trafficking while they await settlement of their cases. Should anyone who has been trafficked into sexual exploitation wish to find other work, then she should be assisted to do so.

Yours faithfully,

John Gee

(Head of Research at TWC2 and participant in the StopTraffickingSG Campaign)


5001, Beach Road,


Golden Mile Complex,

Singapore 199588


For the full CNA article, pl see http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/protecting-victims-rights/1427018.html


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