Australia: Human Trafficking ‘Alarming, Growing’ Trend

Posted March 19th, 2012 at 4:05 pm (UTC-5)
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Australian authorities say human trafficking is becoming an alarming and growing trend in the country.

The authorities say that while the focus is mainly on the smuggling of foreign women into Australia's sex industry, there has been an increase of “slave labor” into other sectors, such as construction and manufacturing.

The trafficked women are mostly from Asia and Eastern Europe. They are often tricked with promises of a well-paid job or a place at college. But more often than not, officials say, they end up either in sexual servitude or working in what is described as a forced labor or slavery-type situation.

Australia's Federal Police have held forums across the country to help their colleagues identify both victims and perpetrators. But they acknowledge that combating the trade will be difficult. Convictions are rare because victims are often too scared to speak out due to fear of deportation or threats against family members.

Although there is no reliable information on the number of people smuggled into Australia every year, estimates put the figure at around 1,000. The vast majority are victims of organized criminal gangs, but authorities say some are trafficked by friends and family members.