The Singapore Police Force recently detected a 40% increase in numbers of unlicensed massage establishments. Most of these unlicensed massage establishments engage in vice-related offences such as providing sexual services. All of which is an offence under the Massage Establishment Act as well as Bill and the Women’s charter.
Is it a crime to patronise such an establishment?
Simply put, it is not a crime to frequent a massage establishment that conducts vice activities. However, it is an offence for the worker as it exceeds their work requirements on their work permits.
What happens to the business owners of such establishments?
Under the Massage Establishment Bill article 27. “Any person who fails to comply with any condition of a licence shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $5,000.00”.
The owner could also be charged with a fine of up to $3,000.00 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years according to the Women’s Charter. Section 147 states that “any person who keeps, manages or assists in the management of a place of assignation shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $3,000.00 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years or to both and, in the case of a second or subsequent conviction, to a fine not exceeding $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years or to both.”
However, if the establishment is occupied by any 2 or more women or girl workers, the massage parlour may be considered as a brothel according to the Women’s charter. A “brothel” is defined by law to mean any place occupied or used by any 2 or more women whether at the same time or at different times for prostitution.”
The owners may also be charged with a fine not exceeding $3,000.00 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years or both, as stated in section 148 of the Women’s charter.
What happens to the landlord if their tenant carries out such a business?
The landlord would need to compel the tenant who is convicted of an offence under section 147 or 148 of the Penal Code to quit the tenancy and deliver up the premises. If the tenant fails to deliver up the premises after the owner of the property has determined the tenancy, the owner would need to make an application to the Magistrate’s Court to compel the tenant to issue a summary order requiring the tenant to deliver up the property. However if the owner is also involving in the running of the “brothel”, he may be charged under section 147 or 148 of the penal code as the case may be.