Don't just craft laws, be clear about them

Don't just craft laws, be clear about them

Your domestic helper looks younger than it states on her passport.

You think nothing of it until she gets in trouble with the law. Turns out she is actually 17.

Have you hired an underage worker? Under the Palermo Protocol, you could be at risk of being tagged a human trafficker.

Far-fetched? Think again.

International norms are being imposed on countries and translated into local laws and they govern not just how Singapore and Singaporeans behave but also how we trade.



Take the Palermo Protocol or, as it otherwise known, the United Nation's Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.

What we know of the Protocol in Singapore mainly relates to underage sex workers. To combat the movement of young women for prostitution, it is illegal here to have commercial sex with a minor under 18.

It doesn't matter if she is doing it to feed her family or to buy a branded bag. The Protocol makes it clear the girl is to be protected against exploitation.

I salute that.

The Protocol is also about minors and women being made to move overseas for work from poor foreign countries.

Would that include domestic workers?

Much of the discussion surrounding the Protocol has been on underage commercial sex and nothing on domestic workers.

But Singapore has said it will sign the treaty when domestic measures are put in place.

So are employers of underage domestic workers at risk when local laws are amended?

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