Singapore may raise minimum prostitution age to 18

  Agence France Presse
October 4, 2005

SINGAPORE may raise the minimum age for prostitutes from 16 to 18 to bring its laws in line with international standards, a newspaper report said Tuesday, Oct 4.

A government study into the penal code's provisions on sexual offences is expected to be completed by the end of the year, the Straits Times newspaper reported.

Local authorities, while declining to provide specific reasons behind the study, said it was part of a "holistic review" of Singapore's laws on sexual offences and may include criminalizing sex with minors overseas.

"We constantly review our laws to keep abreast of changing times and norms," the Straits Times quoted a Ministry of Home Affairs spokesman as saying.

Under current laws, having sex with girls under 16 is considered statutory rape, punishable by up to five years in jail and a fine of S$10,000 (US$5900).

The age of sexual consent in most countries is 18 years.

Prostitution is legal in Singapore but pimping and public solicitation are not. Licensed brothels operate in designated areas, some of them catering to the large community of foreign male workers.

Singapore, a major travel hub and a traditional stop for oceangoing ships, last year rejected a US State Department report that said it had a "significant trafficking problem" involving women and children in the sex trade.