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Akha Woman Jailed in Singapore for One Year

An Akha woman who was a victim of trafficking, entered Singapore and was arrested because there was a ban against her. She was sentenced to one year in Changi prison for illegally re-entering the country.
Ms. Meitinee Wongsa (Changi Prisoner number S12369) is an Akha woman who was trafficked from Chiangrai Thailand to the south of the country when she was 18. She was unable to read or write and could barely speak Thai. She was delivered to a brothel in Hatyai. The owner of the brothel made a fake passport for her and took her to Singapore where she was going to put her in a brothel where she would have to sleep with 30-40 men a day. But the police refused her a "permit" and sent her back to Hatyai. (In Singapore the police allow these visitors, for this use, but it is not completely official and not completely illegal.

After returning to Hatyai and the brothel, the brothel owner told Ms. Wongsa that the police in Singapore fined her $2500 US and that she would have to pay it by working in the brothel for two more years. Trust her. So that is what Ms. Wongsa had to do. Her brothel owner and agent is very closely tied to the police in Thailand it is said.

In May of this year, a man from Singapore met her, got her out of the brothel, rented her an apartment and the two of them registered their intent to marry in Singapore. But due to a number of bombings in Hatyai, her fiance decided to move her early to Singapore for her safety. He was unaware that she had been banned from re-entering Singapore. (These women who enter Singapore to settle the appetite of Singapore men, are then shipped out after two years or less, and never allowed to come back, used up, not wanted, not needed. But Singapore is a just and upstanding country we are told.)

By now Ms. Wongsa had her own ID card from Thailand and passport from Thailand.

She got a visa to Singapore, and entered the country. She was waiting for her marriage date, when she renewed her visa and the Immigration asked her to do a finger print test. It was then they said that she had entered the country before, had been banned, so was not allowed to be back and they arrested her. Ms. Wongsa only now speaks limited Thai, and can write a small amount.

She went before the court without an advocate of any kind it appears, and she was sentenced to a year in prison without a further word.

At this time her fiance contacted us hoping we might help. We have been working together to assist Ms. Wongsa ever since. Her fiance has contacted numerous anti-trafficking agencies in SE Asia to see who would help.

Please look at the case at  http://www.akha.org

Please contact the Singapore Embassy or Consulate to ask that this case be reviewed. We believe that Ms. Wongsa is being penalized for being a victim of trafficking in the past, while she is trying to rebuild her life now.

homepage: homepage: http://www.akha.org

Thank you Matthew. 03.Nov.2006 16:26

Fiance

Matthew, Thank you fo sharing this ongoing case to everyone here.

Fiance

Her sad life. My fiance. 03.Nov.2006 16:52

Fiance

It is recognised that my fiancÚ, Ms Meitinee Wongsa(not her real name) is trafficked into exploitative labour situations largely through her experience of poverty, disadvantage and lack of information. She is uneducated, and unskilled; come from a dysfunctional family and single parent household; she has family debts, and is socio-economically excluded. She also lack the power to express herself effectively, or to secure her rights. After having been trafficked she is extremely vulnerable to continued exploitation as she lack livelihood choices and access to services, has illegal status (if abroad) and is often unable to speak the local language.
The discrimination that she faces in access to educational and employment opportunities in Thailand exacerbates her vulnerability to trafficking by increasing her incentive to seek work abroad. Moreover, without citizenship papers, she cannot travel overseas through legal channels. These factors combine to make the offers of her employer/ trafficking agent -- who promise to arrange lucrative employment as well as safe passage -- more appealing.

Till now, i have seeked lots of organisations and also getting replies of little to no help.
I even have people questioning my credibility in this case or asking me what can of help does my fiance wants.

The thing which I think is one of the most important things in working with the network is not just "an awareness" but it is "consciousness." If we have just only awareness, we know what it is, what are the problems, but we have no 'consciousness' to start to do any action. Things/ changes would not happen!! So for me, when we raise awareness, we need to raise consciousness as well.


earnestly waiting,
fiance