Australia’s Sex Slave Industry


Marie Claire
Dan MacDonald
December 8, 2010

When a young Chinese woman in Melbourne received compensation as a victim of sex slavery, her case was hailed a victory – yet it was just the second of its kind. Why?

For Qi*, every day was the same. Sitting hunched on a bed in a dark, dingy brothel, she’d wait for the creak of the old wooden stairs that heralded the arrival of another client. Exhausted from lack of sleep and nauseous from the musty stench of damp carpet and the prospect of the hours that stretched ahead, she’d barely flinch when the telltale creak finally came. Forced to submit to a long line of men no matter how drunk, drugged, putrid-smelling or violent, and forbidden to refuse a client, her only freedom was that she could insist they wear a condom.

Trapped by a “debt bond”, her family under threat if she tried to escape, one extraordinary element separated Qi’s story from that of most sex slaves: it was taking place in Melbourne.

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