SINGAPORE - Singapore's legal system will maintain a tough stance against the "horrendous" trafficking of minors for the purpose of prostitution, said the judge presiding over the hearing of an underage sex case involving a 17-year-old girl from China.
District Judge Low Wee Ping made the comments on Thursday after five more men were convicted of engaging in commercial sex with the minor, who was forced into prostitution by a pimp, Tang Huisheng, 36, also from China.
"Some Singaporeans... cannot understand why the legal and judicial system is so harsh with offenders. What you and similar offenders have participated in is in this horrendous trade of trafficking in a minor," he said.
Unless demand for this trade is suppressed, the "cruel" criminals behind it will continue to find it lucrative to provide the supply of minors, he added - although the authorities would no doubt continue "relentlessly" to stop them.
Four of the men convicted on Thursday were jailed, while the sentencing of Yap Jun Hao, 22, a full-time national serviceman, was postponed to Oct11.
Chong Kwong Ann, 75, unemployed, Tiah Oon Kai, 66, a bookkeeper, and Li Weichao, 42, a construction worker, were each jailed for 12 weeks, while labourer Toh Toh Loh, 60, was given 11 weeks. Judge Low said the sexual services they had sought from the minor were not consensual.
"The sexual service you had was forced prostitution, plain and simple," he said. "This court hopes that with the publication in the media of the shocking background facts... persons who have a good conscience and compassionate heart will never ever commit this deplorable offence."
Giving background on the case, Deputy Public Prosecutor Stella Tan Wei Ling elaborated on how the minor ended up as a prostitute here.
It began in 2011, after her late father incurred debts for his cancer treatment. To help pay the debts, the minor left for Macau in January this year on the advice of her then employer to seek a job at a casino. But she was underage.
A sister of Tang then tricked her into meeting him in Zhuhai, China. When the minor was there, Tang drugged the girl and forcibly had sex with her repeatedly. She was also beaten when she refused his sexual demands.
When she found out Tang wanted her to work as a prostitute here, she refused and was locked up in a room. She was subjected to further beatings from both Tang and his sister after she tried to escape.
Tang and the minor flew to Singapore on May16. She was made to work as a prostitute from May18 onwards until she was arrested on June1 on suspicion of providing paid sex while underage.
Seven other men have been convicted of having paid sex with the minor and handed jail terms of between 11 and 12 weeks. The cases against 14 other men are pending, including that against Tang. He is claiming trial to charges of procuring the girl for prostitution and other vice-related charges.
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