This week I finally made the decision to become an abolishionist for The A21 Campaign. The A21 Campaign “is comprised of individuals, organizations, government officials, and people like you who are committed to abolishing injustice in the 21st century. Our goal is to raise awareness, take legal action where appropriate, and offer rehabilitation services to rescued victims of Human Trafficking in order to fight this injustice from a comprehensive approach. Additionally, we want to branch out to address this issue from a preventative standpoint, aiming to cripple the Human Trafficking trade so there are fewer victims that need to be rescued.”
I have thought about becoming an abolishionist for a long time but, truth be told, I felt intimidated. As a mum with young kids, no university education, limited professional experience and a limited budget, I figured there wasn’t much I could do to help. Then I realised that even if I can only do a little bit, it would be a tragedy to hold even that to myself. So, I took the plunge, signed up and during the process, learned more about Human Trafficking and specifically, trafficking into Australian.
While Australia is by no means as deeply sunk into the terrible crime sludge of Human Trafficking as other nations, it does happen here and they always say if you want to change something, you need to start at home. It is important to know what is going on in our own nation.
Before I start listing facts and figures I need to say this: the more I read about Human Trafficking, the more I realise I don’t know. It’s a deeply complicated issue and one that I struggle to even begin to understand. The point of these posts is to give you and I a little bit more information and to colour a little bit more of the picture which is so much bigger than any of us. If you want to find out more about Human Trafficking, please do some of your own research and don’t forget to drop me a line so I can learn too 🙂
I also must mention that the phrase ‘Human Trafficking’ not only refers to people being trafficked into the sex industry but also into the construction, hospitality and agriculture sectors. The A21 Campaign works specifically with women and children trafficked into the sex industry and I have mostly written about the sex industry aspect of Human Trafficking on Every 1 Matters. I will, however, be writing about trafficking in other sectors in the future as we travel further along this road of awareness.
www.HumanTrafficking.org is a great site, full of information on Human Trafficking in each specific country. The site explains that victims are trafficked to Australia from East Asia, South East Asia and Eastern Europe (in particular China, Korea and Thailand). There is also evidence to suggest that some migrants from countries such as India, China and South Korea migrate to Australia voluntarily but find themselves caught up in exploitative conditions further in the future. Some are exploited through unfair working conditions and contracts, while others are wrongly recruited or coerced. HumanTrafficking.org said, “Deceptive practices in contract terms and conditions appeared to be increasing among women in prostitution, while deceptive recruiting practices appeared to be decreasing.”
Quick facts on Human Trafficking in Australia:
- An estimated 1000 victims are currently living under ‘debt bondage’ in Australia. This estimate does not include those who have been trafficed here but paid off their debt.
- It is thought that there are four main reasons for trafficking humans to Australia. 1, lack of Australian women prepared to work as prostitutes, 2, a demand for ‘compliant’ women, 3, a demand for women against whom clients can be violent, 4, beliefs that “Asian women have certain qualities, for example that they are more compliant and will accept higher levels of violence.”
- The Australian Government ‘fully’ complies with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s minimum standards.
- Examples of penalties in Australia; sexual servitude – up to 15 years imprisonment; slavery – up to 25 years imprisonment, deceptive recruitment – up to seven years imprisonment.
- According to www.HumanTrafficking.org, the AFP has “opened 112 investigations and charged 22 people for human trafficking” since 2004. They report six sex trafficking and two labor trafficking cases currently before the court in Australia.
- Our government provides two ‘return and reintegration’ programs. One is for all trafficked women and children, the other is for Thai victims. Victims who help authorities in their investigation qualify for temporary visa (58 victims have received these so far) and social services eg. counselling, shelters, food and living allowances (35 victims have made use of these services).
- Apparently the Australian Government supports “a public awareness campaign with advertisements in daily newspapers that encourage victims and communities to call the police hotline.” They also make an effort to get the news out when traffickers are prosecuted.
- The Australian Government is part of operations to “create regional projects, build awareness, coordinate law enforcement and enhance victim support.” These are called the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons, and Related Transnational Crime and the Asia Regional Cooperation to Prevent People Trafficking. It also has anti-human trafficking agreements with Cambodia, Burma, Laos and Thailand.
- The Anti-Slavery Project has recommended the following:
- 1) Reform the current visa regime to protect ALL victims of trafficking and slavery. A victim-centered visa regime will prevent the re-trafficking and re-enslavement of victims regardless of their cooperation with authorities;
- 2) Adequately resource and implement a victim support program that effectively meets the needs of survivors of trafficking and slavery by providing comprehensive and culturally appropriate services. The current victim service program provides a certain level of services to victims of trafficking who are participating in law enforcement processes. However it is our experience that the level of support is variable and can be inadequate to meet the needs of victims leaving them vulnerable to violence, exploitation and endangerment of their ability to cooperate with law enforcement.
Quick facts on Sex Slavery in Australia:
- Over 100 people have been summoned by the ACC because of alleged sex slavery.
- Sydney is the main ‘entry point’ for trafficked women.
- Estimates say 300 women are trafficked into Australia annually and up to 1,000 women currently work as sex slaves.
- A 2005 report on Trafficking in Australia says:
- At least 1,000 women are kept in debt-bonded prostitution in Australia, where they are raped, beaten and starved.
- The women, usually from Thailand and Burma, are brought into Australia by human traffickers who force them to work as prostitutes – often in legal brothels – for free until they pay off “debts” of up to $50,000.
- In 1998-99, 237 women illegally in Australia were deported after being found in brothels. At that time, immigration officials were not required to question the women to work out whether they had been trafficked. Sometimes the traffickers turn them in to DIMIA (the Department of Immigration) to be deported because they’re no longer a fresh face.
- There are at least 1,000 adult women in Australia in any one year who have been brought here to work as prostitutes and most have their passports removed and are subjected to violence and rape.
Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault (ACSSA) released a paper reviewing research and developments in trafficking in women for sexual exploitation since the early 1990s. The paper, written by Lara Fergus, states the following facts;
For more information on Human Trafficking, please click here for ideas on raising awareness, here for more info on Human Trafficking in Australia, here to read about sex slave industry survivor Somaly Mam’s book ‘The Road of Lost Innocence’, here for an update from The A21 Campaign, here for basic info on Human Trafficking and here to read about the cocoa slaves on the ivory coast and how we can lessen their burden.
- Become an abolishionist with The A21 Campaign and consider running a fundraiser to raise money and awareness or starting up an abolishionist group.
- Visit the Anti Slavery Project and browse through their volunteering options, ethical consumerism information and facts on Human Trafficking in Australia.
- Research further into Human Trafficking in Australia (or your country of origin) and send an email to your friends. Include photos and links to YouTube videos on the subject.
- Today is KEY2FREE day! Wear a key on a necklace and when people ask why, tell them about Human Trafficking. Become the Key to someone’s freedom.