News/Australia: Our secret slave trade

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Subject: News/Australia: Our secret slave trade
From: A. Jordan (annj@hrlawgroup.org)
Date: Thu Oct 21 1999 - 13:09:17 EDT


>The Age
>21.8.99
>
> Our secret slave trade By MARK FORBES
>
> Hundreds of foreign prostitutes are trapped
> in Australia as sex slaves, being bought and
> sold while illegally working in local
> brothels, an Insight investigation has found.
>
> The industry generates more than $50 million
> a year, with up to 500 foreign prostitutes
> estimated to be in Australia at any one time.
>
> Posing as an interested buyer, Insight was
> offered women on bonded contracts for between
> $8000 and $15,000 for three months.
>
> The investigation also identified the man
> believed to be the largest people trader in
> Australia, Sunny Liu, who has imported an
> estimated 1000 prostitutes.
>
> The Australian Federal Police has requested
> details of the individuals identified by
> Insight.
>
> Estimates by the Australian Institute of
> Criminology put the annual earnings from
> illegal foreign prostitutes at more than $50
> million, although some police believe it is
> worth far more.
>
> The federal Justice Minister, Senator Amanda
> Vanstone, said the material uncovered
> justified her support of anti-sex slavery
> legislation just passed through Parliament.
> Intelligence had indicated an increase in the
> trade, she said.
>
> ``This is targeted at the dealers, the ones
> who enslave,'' Senator Vanstone said.
>
> Under the new laws, conducting ``sexual
> slavery'' will be punishable by 25 years'
> imprisonment. A second offence of sexual
> servitude, when an individual is effectively
> denied their freedom, has a 15-year maximum
> penalty.
>
> Senator Vanstone said she would urge law
> enforcement agencies to pursue those behind
> the trade ``to the full''.
>
> The director of End Child Prostitution
> Pornography and Trafficking, Ms Bernadette
> McMenamin called on the federal police to
> establish a national unit to tackle the
> trafficking and trading of women and
> children.
>
> ``This is a huge problem and unless there are
> resources dedicated to it the new legislation
> will have limited value,'' Ms McMenamin said.
> Many of the women are sold into virtual
> slavery, always imprisoned in a brothel or
> overcrowded safe house. They cannot earn any
> money until they have repaid a ``contract''
> of $40,000 or more.
>
> One Sydney brothel-keeper, Ms Gael
> MacPherson, told Insight that she was
> approached weekly by people offering illegal
> workers.
>
> An unknown Asian man knocked on her brothel's
> door with a mini-van with eight women inside.
> ``He said, `you open, you need girls','' Ms
> MacPherson said.
>
> Another operator, in discussions witnessed by
> Insight, was offered Malaysian prostitutes
> for $8000 each for three months. The trader,
> a supposedly reputable businessman also said
> he had a shipment of ``very young, very
> fresh'' girls coming from Vietnam.
>
> Chinese ``beauty queens'' were also offered
> by another dealer for $15,000 each.
>
> A federal police spokeswoman, Ms Tracey
> Dickerson, said police would be interested in
> pursuing Insight's research. ``We would want
> to assess the material for investigation,''
> she said.
>
> Mr Robert Gilder, a federal agent and a
> former member of a federal police taskforce
> on sex slavery, said the trade was
> well-entrenched in most capital cities. He
> estimated that between 250 and 500 women were
> involved at any time. ``It's very lucrative.
> Women earn $100 an hour, but they get nothing
> until they pay off their debt to their
> organisers.''
>
> Most of the women came to Australia on
> tourist or student visas and normally worked
> a six-month ``tour of duty''.
>
> ``They live in appalling conditions,'' Mr
> Gilder said. ``They are forced to work 12
> hours a day or more, seven days a week.''
>


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