Aus­tralia not do­ing its bit on sex traf­fic

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS -

AUS­TRALIA re­mains a sex traf­fick­ing des­ti­na­tion for women and girls, and is in­creas­ingly a des­ti­na­tion for men and women sub­jected to forced labour, ac­cord­ing to a US State Depart­ment re­port.

The an­nual global Traf­fick­ing in Per­sons Re­port, re­leased by US Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry this week, rates Aus­tralia and New Zealand in the top tier of na­tions com­ply­ing with min­i­mum stan­dards for elim­i­nat­ing traf­fick­ing, but both were urged to step up ef­forts.

Aus­tralia has not taken sig­nif­i­cant steps to re­duce the de­mand for forced labour or com­mer­cial sex acts and needs to vig­or­ously in­ves­ti­gate, pros­e­cute and strin­gently sen­tence traf­fick­ing of­fend­ers.

“Aus­tralia is pri­mar­ily a des­ti­na­tion coun­try for women and girls sub­jected to sex traf­fick­ing and, in­creas­ingly, for women and men sub­jected to forced labour,” the re­port states. “Child sex traf­fick­ing oc­curs in­volv­ing a small num­ber of Aus­tralian cit­i­zens, pri­mar­ily teenage girls, as well as for­eign vic­tims ex­ploited within the coun­try.”

Aus­tralia was praised for a pro­gram, ad­min­is­tered by the Red Cross, that pro­vides in­come sup­port, ac­com­mo­da­tion and le­gal as­sis­tance, among other ser­vices, to vic­tims.

But the re­port de­scribes Aus­tralia’s anti- traf­fick­ing law en­force­ment ef­forts as mod­est.

The Aus­tralian Fed­eral Po­lice in­ves­ti­gated 87 al­leged traf­fick­ing cases in 2014, an in­crease from 46 in 2013, but it did not con­vict any traf­fick­ers.

“Ju­di­cial of­fi­cials dis­missed tri­als for three al­leged traf­fick­ers and dropped a traf­fick­ing charge against one de­fen­dant for undis­closed rea­sons,” the re­port states.

Some vic­tims of sex traf­fick­ing and women who mi­grate to Aus­tralia for ar­ranged mar­ria- ges are sub­jected to do­mes­tic servi­tude, the re­port says.

Un­scrupu­lous em­ploy­ers and labour agen­cies sub­ject some men and women from Asia and sev­eral Pa­cific is­lands to forced labour in Aus­tralia’s agri­cul­ture, con­struc­tion and hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­tries.

The re­port de­scribes NZ as a des­ti­na­tion for for­eign men and women sub­jected to forced labour and sex traf­fick­ing and a source for chil­dren sub­jected to sex traf­fick­ing within the coun­try.

Pa­pua New Guinea was placed on the “Tier 2 Watch List” for coun­tries whose gov­ern­ments did not fully com­ply with min­i­mum stan­dards, but which were mak­ing “sig­nif­i­cant ef­forts” to bring them­selves into com­pli­ance.

“An es­ti­mated 19 per cent of the coun­try’s labour mar­ket is com­prised of child work­ers – some of whom are sub­jected to forced labour or child pros­ti­tu­tion,” the Pa­pua New Guinea chap­ter states.

Coun­tries in the bot­tom Tier 3, de­scribed as hav­ing gov­ern­ments that do not fully com­ply with min­i­mum stan­dards and are not mak­ing sig­nif­i­cant ef­forts to do so, in­clude Rus­sia, Thai­land, Syria, Iran and Zim­babwe.

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