WHAT IS LEGAL RESEARCH?
Legal Research is one of the many facets that the flagship NUS Pro Bono Group is comprised of. For the 2016/2017 academic year, Legal Research has specifically been working closely with the Singapore-established NGO, Project X, whose work focuses primarily on the empowerment of sex worker rights through education and public outreach programs. Members of the legal research team have been actively involved in the organisation and participation of legal clinics provided for the sex workers, as well as undertaking research with regards to issues such as the efficacy of the ‘yellow-card’ system regulating sex work in Singapore, as well as more procedural mechanisms pertaining to filing of police reports or Magistrate’s Complaints. Furthermore, the research has gradually be broadened to include increasingly intersectional concerns of human rights, feminism, trafficking and human sexuality to provide a holistic and nuanced understanding of the sex work industry and how other jurisdictions have sought to accommodate it within their legal systems.
WHAT WE DO?
Given that the main collaborative organisation for this academic year is Project X, the key demographic are members of the sex work industry. In particular, the focus has been geared towards transgender sex workers, who have been greatly marginalized in an already taboo form of employment in Singapore. This makes them especially vulnerable to rights abuses, be it for fear of prosecution or due to a lack of clarity of their own legal rights. Therefore, much of the work has been aimed at informing sex workers in Singapore of their legal rights and liabilities, namely through a series of educational workshops and role-playing sequences conceptualised and carried out by the students. In 2016, students conducted research and designed an information brochure to be distributed by Project X, supplementing the workshops, as well as providing a detailed overview of sex worker rights in Singapore. In addition to this, members of Legal Research have also been assisting lawyers in monthly legal clinics organised specifically for sex workers, which deal with a myriad of issues, such as theft, assault, immigration and financial matters. This has allowed members to have first-hand experience into the legal issues that often plague a marginalized community often relegated to the shadows, and has also allowed students a window into how such matters may be resolved. Members of Legal Research have also had the opportunity to conduct interviews with sex workers, assisting Project X by publishing these articles on their website. In its entirety, these programs seek to allow students to interact with sex workers as well as open a door into the world of rights-based activism, to broaden their world-view and to understand the salient real-world applicability of their theoretical studies
– Monthly legal clinics
– Project X kopi sessions
– Human rights champion workshop (January – July 2017)