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Read the latest News in the fight against human trafficking

ACRATH Slide: Latest News

Child Soldiers

Posted in January 1st, 2007
by ACRATH

“Michael was 15 when he was kidnapped by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) to serve as a combatant in the Ugandan insurgent force. During his forced service in the LRA, he was made to kill a boy who had tried to escape. He also watched another boy being hacked to death because he did not alert the guards when his friend successfully escaped”

A 13-year-old former child soldier from Liberia recounts: “They gave me pills that made me crazy. When the craziness got in my head, I beat people on their heads and hurt them until they bled. When the craziness got out of my head I felt guilty. If I remembered the person I went to them and apologized. If they did not accept my apology, I felt bad.”

Forced Marriage

Posted in January 1st, 2007
by ACRATH

“Naseema was forced by her mother into marriage at the age of four to a 30-year-old neighbour. At her husband’s home, her father-in-law and 12 others in the family began torturing her. Her treatment included beatings and starvation, and she was forced to sleep outside in the cold with only a rug to protect her. Her abusers often used her as a human table, forcing her to lie on her stomach so they could cut their food on her bare back. At one point, her father-in-law locked her in a shed for two months and she was only allowed to leave once a day. The night before she escaped at the age of 12 in 2005, her father-in-law tied her hands together and poured scalding water over her head. She escaped the next day, fearing death at the hands of her husband’s family, and was found by a rickshaw driver who took her to the hospital for treatment; it took over one month for her to heal from the various injuries inflicted upon her. She is now in a shelter and attending school.”

Sex Trafficking

Posted in January 1st, 2007
by ACRATH

“Neary grew up in rural Cambodia. Her parents died when she was a child, and in an effort to give her a better life, her sister married her off when she was 17. Three months later, her husband rented a room in what Neary thought was a guest house. But when she woke the next morning, her husband was gone. The owner of the house told her she had been sold by her husband for $300 and that she was actually in a brothel. For five years, Neary was raped by five to seven men every day. In addition to brutal physical abuse, Neary was infected with HIV and contracted AIDS. The brothel threw her out when she became sick, and she eventually found her way to a local shelter. She died of HIV/AIDS at the age of 23.”

Forced Labor

Posted in January 1st, 2007
by ACRATH

“Serena arrived from the Philippines to work as a housemaid. Upon her arrival, her employer confiscated her passport and, with his wife, began to beat and verbally abuse her. On one occasion, her female employer pushed her down the stairs; another time, her male employer choked her until she passed out. She was not allowed to leave the house. As her passport had been confiscated, she could not flee. Serena was so unhappy, she was driven to attempt suicide. Once at the hospital, she was able to escape from her captors. She has sought redress through the court system and is waiting for justice in a shelter.”

It could happen to anyone: Fiona’s Story

Posted in January 1st, 2007
by ACRATH

Fiona was a student in her first year of university studying international relations. So when a family friend proposed taking a quick trip overseas to learn import and export, she thought it would be a great opportunity. Little did she know …

Fiona was introduced to Renat, and within days, she received a passport, a tourist visa and a plane ticket.

In the meantime, Fiona’s new “friends” had “improved” her travel agenda. She was now to work as a waitress in a local café for US$ 1,000 a month. Fiona’s mother was suspicious but was quickly assured that her daughter was in good hands. Renat also warned Fiona’s mother that the travel arrangements had cost him a lot of money, and if her daughter cancelled the trip, she would owe him US$ 1,000.

Upon arrival at her destination, Fiona found out that she would not be a waitress, she would be a prostitute. Her passport was taken away, and she was threatened if she refused to obey or tried to run away.

Fiona’s life became a series of hotel rooms, boarding houses, “madams” and clients until she finally tried to escape. She stole her documents and some cash and hailed a taxi. As soon as Fiona entered the airport, she was stopped by the police. The “madam” was with them and claimed that Fiona had stolen her money. Without asking questions, the police ordered Fiona to return with the “madam”. She was resold to another hotel owner and saddled with a new debt of US$ 10,000 to compensate for her misbehaviour. News from Fiona’s country of Renat’s arrest following a petition by Fiona’s mother brought added threats and abuse.

But Fiona did not give up trying to escape. Six months into her ordeal, she finally managed to contact her national Embassy. There, she found out that her name had remained in the Interpol “missing persons” files for months.

With the assistance of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and her National Embassy, Fiona was safely repatriated. Her case was investigated by the police and is being heard in court.

ACRATH wants to combat human trafficking through a global awareness raising campaign and works to strengthen the capacities of governments to help prevent stories like Fiona’s from being repeated. ACRATH projects also support the re-entry of victims, like Fiona, into society.

Louise Cleary CSB

Australia, has until very recently, had a punitive immigration system. In late 2000, when visiting the detention centre in Melbourne where undocumented and ‘illegal’ immigrants and refugees are housed in prison-like conditions, I met 3 young Thai women. A Chinese detainee whom we had been regularly visiting had gained their confidence and through him we learned their story.

Tui, Phan and Srinak had been trafficked to Australia by a Thai woman and her Australian husband on the promise of work as hostesses in restaurants. We discovered that Tui had worked in a massage parlour and was over 18 at the time of coming to Australia, but Phan and Srinak had been under-age and had come from rural villages. Their story was the common one of deception, confiscation of passports, brutal ‘breaking in’ practices and extensive exploitation in both legal and illegal brothels in Sydney and Melbourne. They had been subject to debt bondage of $35000 which at that time took 600-700 sexual encounters to pay off. The cruel hoax was that the traffickers in our country have a practice of notifying the immigration department that there are ‘illegals’ in a brothel when the debt bondage has been almost served and they are picked up in a raid. Although we had begun the process of advocating for Tui, Phan and Srinak they were deported – to an unknown future and maybe to being re-trafficked.

Sarah came from a poor family in the Batangas region. At 14 she went to work for a relative as a housemaid and subsequently was forced into prostitution. In 2000, when she was 16 she was sold by her ‘uncle’ as a mail-order bride to an unknown Australian.

She was given travel papers and came to Brisbane where she experienced brutal domestic violence from her ‘husband’ (no legal marriage had taken place) and where she was used as a prostitute by his friends and acquaintances.

When she fought back she was informed she ‘owed’ the ‘husband’ money for her air-travel and keep and had to pay. She ran away and sought help from another Filipina woman.

However her ‘husband’ reported her to the Department of Immigration and she was picked up in a raid on the suburban house where she had found refuge. After several days of questioning in a Brisbane jail, Sarah was taken to Villawood Detention Centre in Sydney where she was held for five months and was subsequently deported to the Philippines.

Later, I met Sarah in the Philippines where she was very determined to assist other young women who have been deceived and trafficked into the sex industry.

Religious lead fight against sex slavery

Posted in December 3rd, 2006
by ACRATH

The Catholic Weekly
Marilyn Rodrigues
December 3, 2006

A CONVERSATION with Good Samaritan Sr Pauline Coll

Today there are an estimated 1000 women working as sex slaves in Australia and as many as 300 are smuggled here each year, says Sister of the Good Samaritan, Sr Pauline Coll.

Most come to Australia from South-East Asia with the promise of waitressing or traditional massage work but once they get here they are forced through lies, extortion, blackmail or violence, or a combination of these, to work in brothels for no pay.

Many are afraid of the police and Immigration Department officials, have little or no English or knowledge of where to go for help. If they know enough and are brave enough to testify against their captors they are offered a temporary witness protection visa. Many receive no help at all. Read more..

Worker scandal widens

Posted in October 18th, 2006
by ACRATH

The Courier-Mail
Lachlan Heywood, Jason Gregory and Michael Corkill
October 18, 2006

ROGUE Queensland bosses may be exploiting hundreds of foreign workers brought in to plug the state’s skills shortage.

Alleged maltreatment of 40 Philippines workers by a Brisbane welding company comes amid growing evidence the controversial 457 visa scheme is being abused.

The Immigration Department last night confirmed that 28 separate investigations were under way into alleged breaches by Queensland employers. read more..

Client took pity on sex slave, court told

Posted in July 20th, 2006
by ACRATH

The Sydney Morning Herald
Leonie Lamont
June 20, 2006

AS SOON as she got off the plane from Thailand, the 19-year-old woman was put to work in a Sydney brothel. But she was so “deeply unhappy” that she asked clients to phone the Immigration Department, so she could be arrested and released from her alleged sexual servitude.

One of those clients did ring immigration, said the Commonwealth prosecutor, Paul Roberts, SC, and on May 20, 2004, immigration officers and the Australian Federal Police raided a brothel at Strathfield. However, the woman had been moved to another brothel, at Penrith, where she was ultimately found. read more..

Lifting the veil on the slave trade

Posted in July 9th, 2006
by ACRATH

The Sydney Morning Herald
July 9, 2006

Abused and powerless, the victims of sex slavery in Australia have had nowhere to turn for help. Now, writes Erin O’Dwyer, a dedicated network of nuns are defying the lucrative trafficking industry and reaching out. read more..

Sex slave raid on cell under brothel

Posted in July 9th, 2006
by ACRATH

The Sydney Morning Herald
Les Kennedy
June 9, 2006

FOUR Thai women were forced into prostitution and held against their will in a secret room underneath a Sydney brothel, a court has heard.

The women, all Thai nationals aged between 27 and 44, were found cowering in the bare room by Australian Federal Police and NSW Police during a raid with Department of Immigration officers on a Canley Heights premises yesterday.

Brief details of the forced incarceration were revealed when Trevor McIvor, 58, and a Thai woman, Kanokporn Tanuchit, 40, faced Central Local Court charged with 32 counts of allegedly holding the women against their will to work as sex slaves. read more..

C 2011 ACRATH Inc – Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans