The polite way to raid illegal brothels

Government bashing hit a new low this weekend.

Policemen, who were merely carrying out their duties as law enforcement officers, were accused of “terrorising women” because they wore protective gear and masks and used force to gain entry into locked units during a raid on vice-related activities. The locked units are believed to operate as illegal brothels, housing work-pass holders who allegedly used their stay in Singapore to commit vice-related offences.

The primary basher of this police raid is one Vanessa Ho, part of Project X, a non-profit organisation which fights for welfare and rights of sex workers, both legal and illegal.

In her FB post published on Friday night and carried by Mothership, Vanessa was sibei angry to see police officers using force to enter a locked unit suspected of illegal activities. She also felt that getting the sex workers to stand in a row facing the wall is public shaming to them.

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In her subsequent exchanges with those who commented and sided with the police officers, Vanessa fiercely defended her position. She also volunteered some updates on the raid – “We just found out that there was an underage girl in the premise, can you imagine how she felt? Listening to all those sounds?”

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By sounds, Vanessa meant the sounds made by officers who broke down the locked unit door to gain access and not the groans and moans that an underage girl may be subjected to in an illegal brothel.

Vanessa was also very concerned about the psychological trauma that the sex workers would have from the way the police officers gained entry during the raid. “.. in this instance of a RAID, we need to highlight the extreme force and violence”.

I am confused. Did Vanessa mix up the raid with a birthday party? Was she expecting the police officers to ring the doorbell or call before they reached?

At one point, Vanessa even argued that those who operate and work in illegal brothels are no different from you and I. Just that they decided to go illegal because police does not give out enough licences. So, it’s BO BIAN and it’s police’s fault.

Vanessa’s willingness to assist sex workers who need help is laudable. But to take this to such an extreme, where she sees no wrong in illegal sex trade at all and slams the police for maintaining law and order, is dangerous and should not be condoned.

Minister for Home Affairs K Shanmugam swiftly defended his troops with an FB post on Saturday night. Vanessa, who so vehemently fought for the rights of the sex workers, on the other hand, has responded by quietly taking down her post (or did she change the post setting to private? But why do so if her aim was to raise awareness of the plight of the sex workers). Was Vanessa not confident/convinced of what she was fighting for after all?

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