Activist suggests Ministry of Manpower should issue work permits to sex workers


Local activist Jolovan Wham has suggested that the Ministry of Manpower start issuing work permits for sex workers.

Linking an article that reports on how New Zealand has added prostitution to the list of employment skills for potential immigrants, Wham recalled a case he helped with in the past. Wham recounted that a sex worker from China, who had been robbed by her client after they had sex, sought his help.

When Wham accompanied the woman to the police station to lodge a complaint, the officer allegedly threatened to arrest the woman for soliciting and Wham had to step in and prevented the officer from arresting the woman.

Wham advocated on Facebook yesterday evening: “Sex work IS work. Singapore Ministry of Manpower should start issuing work permits for migrant sex workers. Sex work is like all other types of work and we should not be judgemental.”

He added: “It is only when we regulate and legalise sex work that we can combat sex trafficking more effectively and see real improvement in HIV rates. It will also protect them from abuse, violence and exploitation.”

I remember a sex worker from China whom I assisted many years ago. She was robbed by her client after they had sex. When…

Posted by Jolovan Wham on Thursday, 26 April 2018


Prostitution itself is not illegal in Singapore but prostitution-related activities such as public solicitation, living on the earnings of a prostitute and maintaining a brothel are criminalised.


  1. Everyday there are numerous LOCAL old tired uncles and aunties pushing smelly dirty carton boxes outside this Wham’s office. Why didnt he go champion for the welfare for these marginalised people instead ???

    • Perhaps there are too many issues at hand here that needs to be addressed and each and every other person’s individual’s experiences in life contributes a deciding factor to the category of humans in distress that they eventually speak up for and represent in later life. And as wham himself had stated, he had ever come across such Sex workers before who had been exploited and thus could be the reasons for him speaking up for them now …

    • err they most likely do? the activist is suggesting for MOM to give licenses to those doing sex work without licenses at the moment, BECAUSE FWs who do sex work without licenses ie. illegally have trouble seeking redress if they are victims of crimes

    • it’s like suggesting if a illegal worker in sg is injured and dying by the roadside, you will not help just because he is illegal? wow for humanity

  2. Sex worker do have permit. Don’t he know? Those who didn’t have the card are illegal. Those have the card works in the brothel. Those who don’t have stand by the road side on the street.

    • The issue seems like the MOM does not conduct screening of the applicants. Are the applicants here for job and income satisfaction or are they here against their own free will?

    • Lee Kee Seng
      For street side worker, I’m not sure. For working girls in brothel, they definitely come here with their own will. However after 2 years they are not allow to continue/renew their pass. For sure they are here for the money. As for enjoyment, I won’t know. Girl with working pass should be under CID in-charge, my guess.

  3. Prostitution is the oldest profession in the world. Mr Wham didn’t know is that we do have a system of “ legalizing “ this profession but because of social norms & other implications it was not publicly “ recognized”. The “ professionals” are vetted & the number of brothels are tightly controlled & approved. The ladies have to do monthly medical check ups & screened. They hailed from a few countries like Malaysia, China, Thailand & Vietnam.
    So before anyone go around shouting for anything please do more research.
    Do they know that those girls that works here are given 2 years permit & when it expires, they cannot return forever?

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    • Agreed, the gov. just fall short of advertising their ownership of the social services at gaylang …….perhaps the gov. should tear down the 300+ brothel and built a built a new integrated mega social service hub to include massage spa parlor /night club/disco/ gambling & loan shark business under the purview of EDB , no more need of raid by spf ….LOL or are they are already in it ? LOL…….

    • We can’t, just like we can’t be sure that public licenses will adhere to the same standard. The existence of competition notwithstanding, the point is that people have the right to do what they want, and it is not up to government to grant such rights.

    • The same way competition provides for you better products at cheaper prices – the profit motive creates an incentive for companies to possess a good reputation. We don’t know for certain what are the best safety standards for everyone, which is why it being subject to competition is a learning process for companies to best figure it out.

    • Wouldn’t that also breed the potential of rescinding safety standards to ensure a competition for consumers rather than prioritise proper safety or quality control?

    • Yes it is, and it’s a company can only outdo another if it provides greater value to its clientele. As such, such private auditing/regulating firms are in a sense coerced to provide ever greater quality and safety to its clients if they want to outdo their competitors.

    • It depends on the scope of audit of the company. I mean, conceivably a taste-review company is quite different from a safety-review company, and that they are not direct competitors.

  5. It’s about time the laws of legalised prostitution in Little Red Dot be updated with the times…

    I can’t agree more with activist JW’s proposition that the sex industry be better regularized… and it will be all for the better, not least:

    1. Overdue recognition and protection be given to what these often mistreated Sex Workers (local and foreign) encounter in their occupation, one that offers an essential service to a certain but definite segment of the society.

    2. Work permit issuance will afford officials a better handle on the sex trade, monitoring the numbers while weeding out abuses and illegal exploitation in the biz.

    3. Most importantly, ID’d and documented sex workers is a safe bet to putting a crimp in the potential spread of STDs inherently associated with this oldest profession.

    BTW, HK is somewhat ahead which, unlike Singapore, allows classified ads for such personal service…and in Italy, a predominantly Catholic country, prostitution laws are quite similar to S’pore’s that while legalizing the service, it bans pimping and organized bordellos.

  6. You activists wake up your idea. Prostitution itself pollute the society. If you want to do it do it disceretlynand don’t get caught. But to promote openly is NO.

  7. How nany shipyards FW are here?

    How many construction FW are here and dormitories?

    How many Town council cleaners are here?

    How many nos of projects maintenance and technician are here?

    Est Total 750,000- 150,000 maids.

    The number of FW here are scary if there is no Geylang services.

    Orchard towel and Hyatt are for the Expensive Xxpatriates Ang Mo/sailors/tourists./ PR ..etc

    If the MOM is not able to handle the issue. Our families daughters and ladies will be at risk.

    Gang rape is a seasonal affair in their (hometown) country.

    Domitories nearby estates will cause problems ….. if not handle with care.

    Why did they need work permits for prostitues?

    Do they see the problems now?

    Do you know why .. prostitutes they are opening up and at the same time pay levy for sex workers?

    Now we know?

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