Singapore's Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has charged the senior representatives of a local Hindi music pub for offences under the Prevention of Human Trafficking Act (PHTA).

Taraana Balakrishnan s/o Jaganathan, 52, and his 29-year old Nepalese wife Khema Bhatta, the respective director and manager of Taraana, were charged in the State Courts on 20th May 2016, according to MOM.

The couple are the first to be charged under section 3(1) of the PHTA.

"The accused persons were each charged with seven charges under the PHTA for abusing their power as employers to harbour and exploit seven female Bangladeshi women, who were performing artistes at Taraana," MOM stated.

It added that under section 4(1) of the PHTA 2014, any person who is found guilty of an offence under section three of the PHTA 2014, in the case of a first offence, shall be fined up to $100,000 with imprisonment of up to 10 years.

In addition, the accused shall be liable to caning of up to six strokes of the cane.

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MOM explained it has since taken necessary steps to ensure that the seven Bangladeshi women are provided with the appropriate care.

"Our investigation officers are visiting them regularly to check on both their physical and mental well-being. We have also engaged professional counselling services to look after their emotional needs. To help in their rehabilitation process, we have facilitated the victims to gain interim employment under the Temporary Job Scheme (TJS)," it stated.

Highlighting that Singapore remains committed to combating trafficking in persons, MOM encouraged members of the public who suspect or are aware of any labour trafficking activity to report the matter to the government agency.

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