Report debunks assumptions on trafficking

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More females than males have been convicted in Australia for human trafficking and slavery, and none have had links to organised crime groups.


Since Australia introduced tough laws to crack down on trafficking a decade ago, nine schemes have been successfully prosecuted in Australia.

The Australian Institute of Criminology said that while middle-aged men were often assumed to be behind trafficking and slavery, eight of 15 people eventually convicted in Australia were women.

The report found the female offenders were all migrants, born in the same foreign country as their victims, and typically from similar poor socio-economic backgrounds.

The majority of the schemes involved slavery of Thai women in the sex industry, with the victims forced to pay debts of tens of thousands of dollars, owed to offenders for organising their passage to Australia.

“Almost all the offenders in the sex industry had prior work experience in that industry,” the report, released on Thursday, found.

“At least three of the female offenders had reportedly been victims of slavery in Australia themselves.”

The trafficking often involved other crimes such as immigration fraud and money laundering.

The report also found local offenders did not match common assumptions that they were involved in “high-end organised crime”, which was often the case internationally.

“In fact, groups identified as having trafficked people into Australia have been relatively small, with many using family or business contracts to facilitate recruitment, movement and visa fraud.”

Institute deputy director Rick Brown said understanding the nature and motivation of trafficking would help authorities stamp out the crime.

“The report found that offenders often effectively partnered with trusted co-offenders from close knit, cultural or family groups and were able to rely upon their connections in the source country to facilitate human trafficking crimes,” Dr Brown said in a statement.

“It’s important that law enforcement understands the characteristics of trafficking crimes in Australia to ensure policy is properly targeted.”

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