Today marks the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund’s “World Day Against Trafficking in Persons”, which aims to give back the hope that was stolen from those children, men, and women victims of human trafficking.
This is an issue which is close to my heart, having volunteered for the Sydney-based not-for-profit organisation Project Futures, which offers trafficked victims safety, comfort, and support.
Before I began, I had no idea just how prominent illegal human trafficking is here in Australia. It is a crime which sadly for the most part, goes undetected.
Today, I hope to share with you some of the realities of human trafficking and its existence in Australia, and urge you all to take part in the “I give hope” campaign and give back the hope which has been grossly taken away from those victims of trafficking.
Illegal human sex trafficking has become a burgeoning market in Australia, with statistics revealing that more than 60,000 men buy women into illegal prostitution every week in the state of Victoria alone.
Human trafficking is a crime against humanity, and it involves the illegal act of recruiting, transporting, transferring, or selling innocent persons through the use of force and coercion into areas of sexual slavery, construction, agriculture, and hospitality industries.
Human life is looked upon, and treated as, a commodity.
The repercussions of trafficking is often tragic, and poses lifelong damage and mental – and often physical – scarring.
Here are just a few facts about the realities of human trafficking taken from the Project Futures website:
- According to UNICEF, 2 million children will be sold into the sextrade in the next year.
- Studies indicate that children in prostitution may be victimised by 100-1500 perpetrators per year.
- In South East Asia, many of these children are sold for as little as $50 and some as young as 6 years old.
- Profits from sex slavery exceed US9.5 billion per year.
- Human trafficking is the second largest organised crime in the world. It has become a bigger business than drug trafficking.
- Human trafficking victims are subject to rape, torture, forced abortions, starvation and threats to family members.
- The U.N estimates that 2.5 million people from 127 countries have been trafficked to 137 countries for purposes such as forced labour, sexual exploitation, removal of organs, forced marriages, child adoption and begging.
- A 2006 study found that 76% of trafficked women were physically abused by their trafficker, 90% were physically forced to engage in sexual acts and 91% were threatened with death, beatings, harm to their families and re-trafficking.
- In 2009 there were only 4,166 successful human trafficking prosecutions worldwide, 335 of which were for forced labor.
Human Trafficking in Australia
In 2009 there were only four convictions of sex traffickers and two of labour traffickers. In 1998, Child Wise (ECPAT Australia) established that over 3700 children were known to be working in prostitution throughout Australia.
The average age of entry into prostitution in developed, English speaking countries is 13 years old. This figure is vastly underestimated given the hidden nature of this abuse and increasing use of online media to exploit underage persons.
Common experiences of people trafficked to Australia include poor working conditions, providing labour without pay, being forced to live in the workplace, sexual abuse, physical and verbal abuse, threats to family members, restricted freedom, confiscation of travel and legal documents.
The majority of trafficked people to Australia have tended to enter Australia legally on tourist, student or work visas, but have ended up in situations of exploitation akin to debt bondage or forced labor.
Australia is considered a destination country for women from South East Asia, South Korea, The People’s Republic of China and Eastern Europe for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Since 2004, over 170 suspected victims of trafficking have received support from the Commonwealth Government’s Support Program for Victims of Trafficking.
To date most trafficking victims have been identified in Sydney or Melbourne but can and does occur Australia wide.
World Day Against Trafficking in Persons therefore aims to spread awareness of illegal human trafficking, and call for the joining in solidarity to give hope to those affected.
You can help today by visiting the campaigns official website and join the #igivehope movement by uploading a photo of yourself or a friend forming a ‘heart’ with your hands in order to symbolize the offering of hope to the millions of trafficking victims and their families.