News/Australia: Backpackers escort sex workers to Australia

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Subject: News/Australia: Backpackers escort sex workers to Australia
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Thu Dec 09 1999 - 09:48:51 EST


                  Backpackers escort sex workers to Australia

RTw 12-9-99 6:53 AM

    By Vivienne Stanton
     CANBERRA, Dec 9 (Reuters) - International people-smuggling rings often
pay European backpackers to escort illegal sex workers into Australia from
the Middle East and Asia, the Australian government said on Thursday.
     "Smugglers who specialise in the movement of people from the Middle
East often recruit young European backpackers as escorts," said in an
immigration department report "Protecting the Border."
     The mainly female recruits to the Australian sex industry were
escorted to Australia from all over the world, including the Middle East,
though the majority were from Asia, the report said.
  "This is a particularly insidious practice with sophisticated employment
rackets prevalent in the sex industry," Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock
told reporters.
     The number of illegal non-Australian sex workers more than quadrupled
in 1998/99 to 243 from 56 in 1996/97, with most in the state of New South
Wales, followed by Victoria and Queensland.
     Women recruited overseas for the sex industry often fall into debt
with smugglers and end up effectively enslaved in brothels as they attempt
to repay their debt, the report said.
     On arrival in Australia, the sex worker is often taken to a hotel or
safe house where she is inspected by potential employers, agents or brothel
owners before a deal is negotiated with the highest bidder.
     Prostitution is the second most common activity in Australia for
illegal immigrants after restaurant work, the report said. Other favourite
activities include factory and farm work.
     Many of the illegal workers arrive on false passports or overstay
tourist, student or working holiday visas.
     More than 53,000 people were estimated to have overstayed their visas
at June 30 this year, with the majority remaining in the country for more
than nine years.
     Sham marriages are also used to disguise illegal immigration, with
young impoverished Australian women -- including prostitutes and drug
addicts -- most likely to enter contrived partnerships.
     "They are generally attracted by the quick money offered and are
usually recruited by friends and relatives who themselves have been through
a contrived marriage," the report said.

Melanie Orhant

morhant@igc.org
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