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3 years' jail for woman who forced runaway teen to prostitute herself

SINGAPORE — After running away from a welfare home, a 16-year-old girl found herself living with an older woman whom she looked upon as a mother figure.

3 years' jail for woman who forced runaway teen to prostitute herself
  • A 34-year-old woman was jailed three years for masterminding an operation to sell an underage girl’s sexual services
  • The minor had run away from a welfare home and found herself living with the older woman
  • There was an abuse of trust as the woman had a quasi mother-daughter relationship with the minor, a judge found

SINGAPORE — After running away from a welfare home, a 16-year-old girl found herself living with an older woman whom she looked upon as a mother figure.

However, the older woman abused this position of trust when she exploited the minor by advertising her sexual services online, which resulted in the teenager providing such services to five or six men a day on average.

For her offences, the accused, now aged 34, was sentenced to 36 months, or three years, behind bars. 

She pleaded guilty on Monday (Jan 10) to five charges:

  • Intentionally aiding several unknown men to obtain sexual services from an individual under the age of 18
  • Instigating an individual to destroy the electronic records containing evidence of her offences
  • Indecent behaviour in a public place
  • Breaching a Covid-19 control order by not wearing a mask
  • Breaching a Covid-19 control order by leaving her place of residence during the 2020 circuit breaker period to control the spread of the coronavirus

Six other similar charges were taken into consideration for her sentencing, which was backdated to July 9 last year, the date of her remand. 

To protect the identity of the victim, a gag order was issued to prevent the naming of both the woman and the teen.   

THE CASE

The court heard that the victim ran away from the welfare home in July 2018. She got to know the accused sometime in August that year though the woman's god-daughter.

The girl began staying in the woman’s flat from September onwards with a few other women, who all called the accused “mama” because she looked after them by providing daily necessities such as food.

The court also heard that the accused was working as prostitute and had an account on a classifieds website where she sourced for clients.

Using the same modus operandi, the accused began advertising the victim’s sexual services between December 2018 and April 2019 along with a photograph of the minor.

In each advertisement, the accused would lie that the teenager was 21 years old, and would repeat this lie to interested male clients, even though she knew the girl’s actual age.

Once a meeting date between the minor and the customer had been arranged, the accused would accompany the girl to fulfil her services at various locations around Singapore that included hotels and a public flat. 

Court documents stated that the men would pay between S$100 and S$500 for the girl’s services, some of which took place without a condom.

The accused had also slapped the victim on at least one occasion due to a disagreement between the girl and a customer.

The court heard that on average, the minor provided sexual services to five or six men a day, and would earn up to S$700 from these encounters.

She would then hand over the earnings to the accused. The woman would return a portion of the earnings to the girl as an allowance and use the rest to buy food and pay for bills.

On May 13, 2019, the accused reported for a urine test with a Central Narcotics Bureau officer, and was informed that she would also be interviewed by a Criminal Investigation Department officer on a prostitution case involving the minor.

It was not stated how the police got wind of the accused’s offences.

The accused was aware that her mobile phone contained incriminating evidence and she instructed one of the other women living with her, who was holding onto the device, on how to get rid of the evidence.

Separately, the court also heard that the accused had provided sexual services at the staircase of a public housing block on April 29, 2020.

Singapore was then in the midst of the circuit breaker, which was imposed from April 7 to June 1 that year to stem the spread of the Covid-19. 

Court documents stated that the accused had not only left her home “without reasonable excuse”, but was also not wearing a face mask. 

The accused, who was unrepresented and was seen wiping away her tears as the prosecution read out her offences, told the court through a Malay interpreter that she regretted her actions and hoped the judge could be lenient with her.

The woman, who appeared in court through video-link, added that her mother is sick, and her children “need her outside”. 

District Judge Wong Li Tein said that she had “considered fully the facts of the case” and noted that there were many aggravating factors.

For instance, the judge said that there was an abuse of trust as the accused had a quasi mother-daughter relationship with the minor, who trusted her and asked her for an allowance.

Yet, the accused exploited that trust by masterminding an operation to sell the girl’s sexual services.  

“There was a degree of coercion as to what was done. In other words, she forced the minor to do what she did at some times,” District Judge Wong said.

Related topics

crime court prostitution child underage

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