Trafficking in Persons
Trafficking in persons is a world-wide phenomenon affecting almost every country.
Australia is a destination country for women and girls subjected to sex trafficking and for women and men subjected to forced labour. Unscrupulous employers and labour agencies subject men and women, recruited to work temporarily in Australia, to forced labour in agriculture, construction, hospitality and domestic service.
Significant activities and achievements undertaken by ACRATH (Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans) will be reported at the National Roundtable on Human Trafficking and Slavery on 4th August in Canberra. These activities include:
- The successful roll-out of the forced marriage curriculum development project
- Education and collaboration with community groups, including schools, in regional, rural and remote areas
- A national conference with the theme ‘No to Exploitation, Yes to Dignity’
- Collaboration with and support for Marietta Latonio, social worker, women’s advocate and researcher based at Cebu in the Philippines
A few snapshots reveal the face of human trafficking and slavery:
Rani* is 17 and attends high school in Melbourne. When her parents said they were taking her overseas to marry a man she has never met, she thought she had no option but to comply. During a talk at her school she learnt about her legal right to choose her own husband.
Fatima* was a housekeeper at a consulate in Sydney. She fled after being enslaved in the consulate for months. She received no wages. She has been linked with a pro bono lawyer to explore her legal options.
Han* is a construction worker who worked on a building site in Canberra for many months. His trafficker disappeared with Han’s and his co-workers’ wages. An ACRATH member is working with unions to address this.
A woman was badly injured when, in April 2013, the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh collapsed killing 1136 and injuring more than 2500 poorly paid garment workers. The subcontractors had agreements with Australian and other global companies to make garments to be sold cheaply in countries like Australia. Australian clothing labels were found in the debris of the collapsed building.
*Names have been changed to protect identities.
An online education resource has been prepared by ACRATH to assist school teachers in educating students about modern human trafficking. It has been developed as a four step process (introduction, information, recognition, action) and from this basis of increased knowledge and the capacity to reflect, it directs the student towards action. ACRATH has organised a number of teacher training days to ensure that the process is well understood and that the teachers are well resourced. The education resource can be found here located on ACRATH webpage under ‘Education Resource’.
Words: ACRATH volunteers, Anne McPhee ibvm and Mary Baulderstone ibvm
Note: Sunday 30th July has been designated the UN World Day against Trafficking in Persons.