Human Trafficking Hits Close to Home
By Lucy Nichols (Youth Advocate)
When many of us think about human trafficking, about sexual slavery we think of countries far away from Australia. We think about situations that don’t exist in our neighbourhoods, in our towns. However, upon hearing of recent events in Canberra I was reminded that Australia and Australians are directly involved in the creation of the sex slave trade.
The sex slave trade is a global phenomenon and countries involved are classified into three different categories: 1) origin countries where slaves are sourced, 2) transit countries where slaves are held waiting to be transported and 3) destination countries where slaves are transported to. Australia is a destination country. This means that citizens of our nation who utilize the commercial sex market create the demand for human trafficking and sexual slavery. The victims of this demand are trafficked from countries including: Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, The Republic of Korea and Russia.
Recently the Supreme Court of the ACT found Ms Nantahkhum of Canberra guilty of possessing a slave. The victim was forced into slavery through a process of debt bondage. The victim sought work to support her family and put her son through school. Ms Nantahkhum arranged for her to travel to Australia to work as a prostitute. She was informed that she would incur a debt that she was required to be pay back. She was however, told that it would not take her long to pay back the debt and that she would only be required to see 3 or 4 clients a day. However, she saw fourteen clients working six days a week to pay of a substantial debt of $45 000.
This situation is not an uncommon one in Australia where it is estimated that anywhere between 300 to 1000 individuals every year are transported to Australia and exploited in the commercial sex industry.
Australians are creating the demand for such an industry which can be exhibited by sex tourism where Australians make up the largest percentage of perpetrators arrested or prosecuted for sex tourism in countries such as Thailand.
Consequently, to prevent the gross injustice of human trafficking, to diminish the prevalence of forced sexual servitude we must work together to reform the attitudes and practises that occur at home.