Frequently
Asked Questions

Frequently
Asked Questions

FAQ

Sex Work Is...

Not Illegal Per Se

In February 2009, former Senior Minister of State Associate Professor Ho Peng Kee said that, “As members are aware, prostitution is not an offence in Singapore. We recognize that it is not possible to eradicate it and forcing it underground will lead to the greater likelihood of involvement by triads and organized crime, the trafficking of women, and public health risks.” However, that does not mean that sex work is legal.
First and foremost, migrant sex workers are by definition “prohibited migrants” (Immigration Act, Art.8(3)(e)(f)). In addition, many sex-work related activities are criminalised. This includes:

Soliciting in a public place for the purpose of prostitution (Misc Offences Act, Art.19)

Pimping or living on the earnings of a prostitute (Women’s Charter, Art.146)

Owning a brothel (Women’s Charter, Art.148)

Male and transgender sex workers may face additional charges such as “gross indecency”
(Penal Code, Section 377A)

Sex Work Is..

Trina 5

Not Illegal Per Se

In February 2009, former Senior Minister of State Associate Professor Ho Peng Kee said that, “As members are aware, prostitution is not an offence in Singapore. We recognize that it is not possible to eradicate it and forcing it underground will lead to the greater likelihood of involvement by triads and organized crime, the trafficking of women, and public health risks.” However, that does not mean that sex work is legal.
First and foremost, migrant sex workers are by definition “prohibited migrants” (Immigration Act, Art. 8(3)(e)(f)). In addition, many sex-work related activities are criminalised. This includes:

Soliciting in a public place for the purpose of prostitution (Misc Offences Act, Art.19)

Pimping or living on the earnings of a prostitute (Women’s Charter, Art.146)

Owning a brothel (Women’s Charter, Art.148)

Male and transgender sex workers may face additional charges such as “gross indecency” (Penal Code, Section 377A)

If owning a brothel is illegal, how come there are so many in Geylang?

In practice, the police regulate and monitor a limited number of brothels. In particular, the Specialised Crime Branch of the Singapore Police Force issues licenses to brothels and provides clearance for brothel sex workers to acquire a Work Permit. Sex workers in such establishments are required to undergo monthly health checks and are given the infamous “yellow card” (literally—it is a yellow coloured card). The State does not publicly acknowledge this, however, through our work, we managed to learn of some criterion for application of the yellow card:

You have to be between 21-35 years of age

You cannot be Malay or Muslim

You cannot be Male on your ID card (this includes pre-operative transgender persons)

You have to be from a list of approved countries (i.e. China, Malaysia, Thailand, etc)

If owning a brothel is illegal, how come there are so many in Geylang?

Sherry-Project-X-by-Marisse-Caine-web-scaled

In practice, the police regulate and monitor a limited number of brothels.

In particular, the Specialised Crime Branch of the Singapore Police Force issues licenses to brothels and provides clearance for brothel sex workers to acquire a Work Permit. Sex workers in such establishments are required to undergo monthly health checks and are given the infamous “yellow card” (literally—it is a yellow coloured card). The State does not publicly acknowledge this, however, through our work, we managed to learn of some criterion for application of the yellow card:

You have to be between 21-35 years of age

You cannot be Malay or Muslim

You cannot be Male on your ID card (this includes pre-operative transgender persons)

You have to be from a list of approved countries (i.e. China, Malaysia, Thailand, etc)

More About
The Yellow Card

Most workers under the yellow card system are migrants. They will have to undergo an interview and sign a contract with the police upon arrival. We understand that some workers were asked at this point if they have been coerced into this industry. Amongst other things, the agreement states that one will not break any local laws, and that once their contract ends, they will face a travel ban lasting between three years to a lifetime. Other terms and conditions include not soliciting outside one’s designated brothel, not loitering in public spaces, and not to have a Singaporean boyfriend.

Workers under the yellow card system work full time–up to 6 days a week and compensation has to be provided if more off-days are required. Brothels are to comply with a 100% condom use policy, however, there have been reports of unsafe sexual practices within these brothels. All other sex workers who are not on the yellow card system are considered “illegal”. They are often more vulnerable because they fear being arrested.

More About
The Yellow Card

Most workers under the yellow card system are migrants. They will have to undergo an interview and sign a contract with the police upon arrival. We understand that some workers were asked at this point if they have been coerced into this industry. Amongst other things, the agreement states that one will not break any local laws, and that once their contract ends, they will face a travel ban lasting between three years to a lifetime. Other terms and conditions include not soliciting outside one’s designated brothel, not loitering in public spaces, and not to have a Singaporean boyfriend.

Workers under the yellow card system work full time–up to 6 days a week and compensation has to be provided if more off-days are required. Brothels are to comply with a 100% condom use policy, however, there have been reports of unsafe sexual practices within these brothels. All other sex workers who are not on the yellow card system are considered “illegal”. They are often more vulnerable because they fear being arrested.

More About
The Yellow Card

Most workers under the yellow card system are migrants. They will have to undergo an interview and sign a contract with the police upon arrival. We understand that some workers were asked at this point if they have been coerced into this industry. Amongst other things, the agreement states that one will not break any local laws, and that once their contract ends, they will face a travel ban lasting between three years to a lifetime. Other terms and conditions include not soliciting outside one’s designated brothel, not loitering in public spaces, and not to have a Singaporean boyfriend.

Workers under the yellow card system work full time–up to 6 days a week and compensation has to be provided if more off-days are required. Brothels are to comply with a 100% condom use policy, however, there have been reports of unsafe sexual practices within these brothels. All other sex workers who are not on the yellow card system are considered “illegal”. They are often more vulnerable because they fear being arrested.

More Frequently
Asked Questions

More Frequently Asked Questions

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet?

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna.