I refer to the article “Consider harsher penalties to deter paid underage sex” (23 September 2013) by Seah Leong Khai.
While I agree with the author that punishment for paid underage sex should be made more severe to ensure effective deterrence, it is also necessary to supplement enforcement with a cultural change. I believe that the root issue is the favouring of values of promiscuity and pleasure over faithfulness, self-restraint and selflessness.
We should seek to create a conducive environment which will inspire Singaporean husbands to be faithful to their wives and play the lead role in building a strong and loving home.
Instead of glorifying extra-marital sexual exploits in the media or treating such moral lapses as if they are inevitable, we should celebrate the men who have chosen to make a lasting commitment to their families.
One example is the viral video “The Devoted Husband” featuring Mr. Kenneth Liew, who is honouring his wedding vows to his wife despite her being in a coma for the last five years.
Additionally, we must encourage husbands to foster better relationships with wives and ensure open channels of communication. This way, the men can find adequate support within the family for his problems and desires, without seeking external “comfort” or satisfaction by exploiting other women.
As fathers, men can also set good examples by rejecting the prevalent culture of promiscuity and teaching their children to seek healthy, stable relationships rooted in love and respect instead.
The ills of underage sex, commercial or non-commercial, will not disappear overnight unless we make corresponding changes in both our law and our culture before it destroys even more lives and families.
It is impossible to separate this issue of underage commercial sex with the problem of transnational sex trafficking in Singapore. Women, including underage girls, from developing countries in Asia, are lured here by unscrupulous pimps and agents through trickery, deceit or the promise of a decent-paying job which would help support their families back home.
These women are often exploited because of their poverty and poor education. They also often take out huge loans in order to come here to work. After realising that they were tricked, they have no choice but to sell their bodies to repay the loans.
While the immigration authorities and police force are doing their very best to thwart the deluge of illegal traffickers and break the chain of supply, it is only logical to enhance the punishment for the male customers to ensure deterrence and so that the tireless efforts of law enforcement officers will not be undermined.
It is not enough to cooperate and share information with the counterpart authorities of the trafficked women’s countries of origin, or to introduce stricter sentences. The eradication of the culture of exploitation of women among our men and boys must begin at home.
Similar to the issue of commercial underage sex, the government should not just focus on the anti-vice component of sex trafficking but also give proper attention to pro-family initiatives that seek to reverse the trend.
The evils of transnational sex trafficking and underage prostitution can only be eradicated when both the sources of demand and supply dry up.
This is a longer version of an article that was published in TODAY.
- Legalized prostitution has not reduced stigma or exploitation (womennewsnetwork.net)
- Legal prostitution condones humiliation of women (thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com)
- Underage sex trafficking crackdown in Singapore nets five Chinese nationals (theglobaldispatch.com)
- Human Rights Groups Urge UN To Not Recommend Legalized Prostitution (mintpressnews.com)