Slavery is happening right here at home
For most Australians human trafficking and slavery takes place in faraway places or behind the blacked out windows of sex businesses. It is a shock to learn that human trafficking and slavery happens right here in Australia and affects a much broader group of people.
I have supported men, women and young people subjected to forced labour, servitude and women deceptively recruited into slave-like marriages. These experiences are devastating, traumatic and a gross violation of human rights.
Government agencies and community service organisations have identified and uncovered slavery-like practices in many different sectors of the economy right here in Australia. These include, but are not limited to hospitality, construction, agriculture, manufacturing, domestic work, retail and even for the purpose of organ removal.
Forced labour and servitude are characterised by the deprivation of a person’s liberty through psychological manipulation, deception and threats to create a situation where they are not free – a prison without walls for someone else’s profit, gain or advantage.
While both Labor and Coalition governments over the last decade have committed considerable resources to anti-slavery strategies, only thirteen people have been successfully convicted of human trafficking and related offences due in part to the limited scope of current legislation.
The proposed Crimes Legislation Amendment (Slavery, Slavery-like Conditions and People Trafficking) Bill 2012 currently before a Senate committee, if passed, will broaden the definition of criminal activity related to human trafficking and slavery which currently leaves victims without redress within the criminal justice system.
Until quite recently, human trafficking and slavery outside of sex work received little attention during the last decade. There are historical reasons for this, which has not been helped by the inaccurate stereotyping of trafficked persons only as Asian women working against their will in the sex industry.
After ten years of research by the Australian Institute of Criminology and the collective experiences of police and community service organisations, it is clear that Australia, like other developed nations, needs to broaden its focus.
Like other community service organisations, it is The Salvation Army’s experience that significant numbers of people experience trafficking and exploitation outside the sex industry.
Since the opening of The Salvation Army’s Service for Trafficked People in 2008, there have been 133 referrals received, and of these only 36 have been victims of sexual servitude, debt bondage or serious exploitation in sex services.
Out of these 36 referrals, only 2 women did not plan to work in the sex industry when they arrived in Australia.
The majority of clients supported by The Salvation Army’s Service for Trafficked People have been men, women and young people who have been trafficked into Australia for the provision of labour in industries such as hospitality, construction, cleaning, beauty therapy, domestic work and through marriage.
In a recent fact finding mission conducted by United Nations Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, Dr. Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, several manifestations of trafficking were noted, including trafficking for labour exploitation and via marriage.
Many victims of human trafficking and slavery simply want to be free and away from their captors, but for those who want freedom and justice, the improved legislation offers an important avenue for redress.
Project Futures in collaboration with The Salvation Army’s Service for Trafficked People is encouraging both men and women on this coming Friday the 7th of September to get behind Bow Tie Friday and the Stella Fella campaign.
By purchasing and wearing a silk bow tie this Friday, you will be making a statement against human trafficking, with all proceeds from the sale of Bow Ties from the Stella Fella website going to The Salvation Army’s Service for Trafficked People.
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