SINGAPORE — A 16-year-old girl fled from a welfare home and sought refuge with a 34-year-old woman, who then prostituted the underage girl on online classifieds site, Locanto.
Under the elder woman’s management, the minor, who cannot be named to protect her identity, serviced five to six men daily for close to five months. She had to give all her earnings to the woman, who used them to pay rent and utilities bills.
The woman would also slap the minor, who was a virgin before she was prostituted, over disagreements with sexual services.
On Monday (10 January), the woman was jailed for three years after she pleaded guilty to abetting multiple unknown males to obtain sexual services of a person under 18, instigating someone to destroy evidence, leaving her residence during the circuit breaker period, not wearing a mask during the same period, and for behaving indecently in public.
Another six charges of a similar nature were considered for her sentencing.
Apart from prostituting a minor, the woman also left her flat in Ang Mo Kio during the circuit breaker period to service a man at a staircase landing near her home. She left her home without a mask.
The woman knew the victim through her goddaughter. The victim had fled from a welfare home on sometime in July 2018.
From September 2018, the victim resided with the woman and a few other women, at a Chai Chee flat. The residents of the flat called the woman “mama” as she looked after them and provided them with necessities, including food.
At the time, the woman had an account on Locanto where she advertised her own sexual services and sourced for patrons.
Between December 2018 and April 2019, she advertised the victim’s sexual services, including her photo and a handphone number. She falsely listed the minor’s age as 21.
Interested customers would contact the woman, who would then arrange for a meet-up. The customers were charged $100 for half an hour, $200 for one hour and $500 for two hours of services.
She would accompany the girl to the meet-ups at various locations in Singapore, including the Chai Chee flat and different hotels. Some of these meet-ups involved unprotected sex.
On at least one occasion, the woman slapped the victim over disagreements arising from the provision of these sexual services.
The victim earned up to $700 a day. She handed over all her earnings to the woman, only asking for an allowance.
Victim returned to welfare home
Eventually, a police report was lodged by a person linked to the victim’s welfare home on 29 April 2019. The person said that the victim had returned to the home and had disclosed her drug consumption and the sexual services provided.
The woman reported for her urine test with the Central Narcotics Bureau on 13 May 2019 when the officer told her that she would be interviewed by a police officer on a prostitution case involving the minor.
At the time, the woman’s handphone was with another woman, known as Alifah. The woman then told an unknown female supervisee, who was also reporting for her urine test at the same time, to get Alifah to uninstall a chat app from the woman’s phone, and to install another chat app in its place.
She also instructed Alifah to delete the messages on her Locanto and her Internet browsing history. Alifah managed to do so.
Provided sexual services during circuit breaker
During the circuit breaker period, which lasted from 7 April to 1 June 2020, the woman also provided sexual services from the staircase landing in her HDB block. She advertised her sexual services on Locanto and a 30-year-old man responded.
At the time, all persons were not allowed to leave their residences for non-essential purposes.
The two arranged to meet at the staircase landing of the woman's HDB block on 29 April 2020. The man then made payment of $180 before the two engaged in sexual acts. After the man was unable to perform sexually, the woman told him to pay her $50 for a time extension and asked him to return an hour later. The man did so and returned at night.
The two met again at a staircase landing, but the man was again unable to perform sexually.
At about 11pm, another resident known as “Ms Lee” called the police reporting that an unmasked Chinese man in black shirt and shorts kept “hiding” around her flat.
The woman, who was still engaged with her customer, then heard the noise of the police arriving and told the man to leave. He was stopped by the police as he left, while the woman managed to flee to her flat to avoid the authorities.
She later changed her contact number and deleted the post on Locanto.
Judge: No mitigating factors
In mitigation, the woman, who had no lawyer, asked for her sentences to be run concurrently. She said she regretted her actions and sought leniency from District Judge Wong Li Tein. The woman, who appeared tearful via videolink, claimed that her mother was sick and that her children needed her.
In response, the judge said that the woman’s case had many aggravating but no mitigating factors.
“The accused is clearly the mastermind in this entire operation as the accused handled the entire operation from beginning to the end, from advertisement, listing it online on Locanto, liaising with customers and accompanying the minor to the locations and waiting till she was done,” said the judge.
“I can say a lot about the fact that she took all earnings from the minor and I note that the minor was a virgin before this,” the judge added.
The fact that the woman had slapped the victim also showed a degree of coercion in her actions, and the victim had symbolically regarded the woman as her protector and mentor. However, the woman had taken advantage of her.
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