Human trafficking can happen everywhere and anywhere, including well-developed countries like Singapore. Often, it is a crime that cannot be seen, heard or known easily because these victims lack support, opportunities and resources to voice out and seek help.
Founded by Sylvia Lee in 2012, EmancipAsia is a non-profit charity registered in Singapore and a volunteer-run organisation. They aim to combat human trafficking by raising awareness, advocating change and empowering communities, businesses and individuals to take action to end this horrific crime against humanity. This week, JustRunLah! got in touch with Sylvia as she shares with us the causes and scope of EmancipAsia and their exciting upcoming event, STEPS In The Park 2015.
JustRunLah!: EmancipAsia is a charity organisation that deals with a global problem and has its base operations in Singapore. So who does EmancipAsia specifically target and empower?
Sylvia: We target Singaporeans and residents in Singapore. Most people are unaware of this, and so we decided to focus our energy here. When the opportunity arises for expansion of our organisation and cause, we will then go beyond Singapore.
JRL: How are Singaporeans involved in perpetuating the crime, which makes Singapore a destination for human trafficking?
Sylvia: Singaporeans and residents are the ‘consumers’ of the crime – consuming products and services that are made or delivered by victims of trafficking.
For instance, many of the products we consume are tainted with slavery in their supply chains – coffee, chocolates, electronics (including mobile phones), prawns, fish, cotton shirts and many others. Some of the domestic helpers working in Singapore are victims as well. Not to forget the workers in the construction industry, landscaping etc. They are also common victims of exploitation and trafficking. We are the end users of all these actions and hence are indirectly perpetuating this crime.
In addition, victims trafficked for sex can still be found standing on the streets of Geylang or red light districts, selling themselves. As such, men could be complicit in this crime without knowing it.
JRL: How does EmancipAsia improve the lives of affected individuals of human trafficking ?
Sylvia: EmancipAsia does not help victims of trafficking. We raise awareness which is a preventive measure against human trafficking.
JRL: How did the idea of spreading EmancipAsia’s cause via a sports event come about?
Sylvia: EmancipAsia reaches out via different channels of communications, such as art, film, talks, drama. We know that there are many Singaporeans who run and enjoy this outdoor activity. Therefore, we decided to target this group using a running event.
JRL: What differentiates STEPS In The Park 2015 from other charity races?
Sylvia: I suspect this is one of the cheapest runs in town. It is both a fun and enriching event with lucky draws, live performances, free food and a nicely designed T-shirt.
JRL: Every STEP goes a long way. How does each STEPS sign-up contribute to fighting against human trafficking?
Sylvia: Participants will have the opportunity to learn about this heinous crime at the event. They will also learn different ways to take action and how to make a difference.