A Federal Police spokesman said it was "an abhorrent situation, their freedom's restricted, they may be forced in various ways coercively, threatened with deportation by the owners (and) lied to. They often have difficult language skills so they're really in a very frightened state when we get to meet them."
This modern form of human trafficking, sexual exploitation, is a heinous crime that impacts not only the victims, but their families and communities. (www.smh.com.au)
A Dutch "anti-trafficking group" have gone so far as to produce a video which went viral with over 2 million hits by the end of April showing choreographed dancing girls in an Amsterdam red light district window. (www.theage.com.au)
Well-Being Australia chairman Mark Tronson says this is a crime that has a long history and in Australia, "every stop is pulled" (a term from a 'wind-organ') to find such situations. Moreover, a recent news item raised eyebrow of "poetic justice" - a brothel itself was held up and its 'safe' riffled and the money taken. (www.smh.com.au)
The reality though, in trafficking, the difficulty is to get the young women to talk.
Jenny Baxter raises the issues
Jenny Baxter is involved in a mission of awareness of human trafficking who says 80% of this inhumane traffic is for sexual servitude, there are other forms of slavery or, more accurately, people working in 'sweat shop conditions'. This is working long hours and often living at the workplace, and manufacturing items like producing the soles of your shoes or mixing the glue that holds things together; or else working in their own districts in rice fields, or plantations of tea, coffee or cocoa for export to first world countries.
In 2003 Jenny had been part of the management team that produced such magazines as 'Alive' and 'Christian Woman'; and after they were sold to Media Inc in Sydney, Jenny was retained as the editor of Christian Woman and was able to telecommute from remote locations.
For six years they lived in Poatina, Tasmania, which is the headquarters of 'Fusion' (a Christian mission); then relocated to Hobart where Jenny's husband, Peter, was the Minister of the Hobart Baptist Church. Jenny Baxter's passion is the awareness of human trafficking across the world. She has undertaken several years of study and research on this subject and has discovered to her horror how rife it is, even in Australia and New Zealand.
Human trafficking is illegal, unethical and falls under the radar so that way too many turn a blind eye to its insidiousness.
Australian Missionary News IPTV
Jenny Baxter was interviewed for the Australian Missionary News by Delma Tronson. "There are so many ways that people are degraded by others," Jenny told Delma, "that sometimes people think it is all to complex and they 'turn off'. I am always trying to show people all the ways in which actual human beings â usually very poor people â are taken advantage of and their lives made intolerably miserable."
She went on to explain that her main concern is trafficking, which usually means that people are illegally taken to another â usually richer â country. Most of this 'traffic' is young women (or even teenage girls) for prostitution or 'escort agencies' or 'dance clubs'.
They are often forced into some type of sexual servitude because of one or more of the following situations: their passports (often forged to start with) are confiscated; they have paid money for their 'fare' and need to 'work' to repay it (this can take years).
They do not speak the language and therefore cannot cope in the wider world; they are not given money of their own so they are reliant on their 'boss' for food and lodgings. They are threatened that their families will be punished if they try to 'escape', and/or they are supervised every minute of the day and ferried to and from their lodgings and their 'place of work'.
High volume trafficking 'sending' countries are those such as Thailand, Burma, Africa and Eastern Europe; while 'receiving' countries are generally first world nations including Australia and New Zealand. Jenny Baxter said the numbers are frightening.
She sees her role as promoting awareness; but she often talks to closed ears.
Delma Tronson noted that if people do not know about human trafficking and all its terrible harm, then it will only increase and do more harm, because it is so profitable to the perpetrators and the poor people themselves often believe the lies, that they are going to 'good jobs' and better opportunities in a richer country.
Awareness is Critical
Jenny emphasised that "awareness" is the critical component, and commented with relief that the Federal Government has made millions of dollars available to combat human trafficking at every level, including funding to assist the victims.
However, the 'other' twenty percent of the problem that Jenny wants to make people aware of is the issue of virtual 'slavery'. She explained to Delma Tronson that this is not the type of slavery we read about in American history, but it is equally as debilitating.
She is mainly concerned with those in third world countries, where the workers are sometimes children, perhaps sold by their parents who are promised the kids will be educated in the city; or they are poor country people moving to the city for a better life and only able to gain employment at the hands of the unscrupulous 'employers'. They are paid very little, given the minimum of sleeping quarters, and work in horrific conditions not seen in Europe since Dickens' times.
These people make all sorts of manufactured goods, and harvest some of the luxury food items that are sold in our own cities. If a 'fair' price is paid for these goods â such as your shoes and your coffee â then there can be a ripple-on effect to ensure that poor workers are paid a living wage, at least.
There are also some completely different situations in Australia and New Zealand where non-English speaking migrants (either legal or overstaying their visas) work as 'out-workers' for a contractor, usually of their own language group, but are able to work in their own home or garage on tasks such as sewing garments for a very small amount of money per garment. Sometimes they need to work extraordinarily long hours to earn any type of living, or to meet their contractual obligations to the 'middle man'.
Jenny Baxter wishes to inform people that nowadays, these practices are becoming known, and many companies advertise their goods are 'fair traded' (or words to that effect), which means that a fairer wage is paid to employees. She urges all of us in well-to-do places to take notice of labels, and where we have a choice, to be willing to pay that extra $2 for all such items that are clearly marked with a phrase that indicates 'Fair Trading'.
In conclusion, Jenny Baxter wants to spread the message to make people aware that they can help improve the lives of those workers, often children, who work under virtual slave situations, by paying a little extra where they know that workers are being paid a fairer wage.
And she also wants to make people aware of the enormous world-wide situation in trafficking of humans where real people are treated as mere chattels, not in any 'humane way'. Only by being "aware" can people notice any situations they think are suspicious, and notify the authorities.
Jenny Baxter's interview on the Australian Missionary News IPTV - YouTube channel can be viewed on www.youtube.com
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html