Sex slavery prevalent in Australia | Connect Asia

Sex slavery prevalent in Australia

Sex slavery prevalent in Australia

Updated 28 February 2012, 17:55 AEDT

There are hundreds of legal brothels operating across Australia but elements of the industry have been tied to human trafficking and sex slavery.

The ABC television program Four Corners exposes the criminal underworld that's meeting demands for Australia's big sex industry.

Presenter: Bronwyn Herbert

Speaker: Kathleen Maltzahn, anti-trafficking campaigner; Justine Wang, director for Human Trafficking at Taipei Women's Rescue Foundaton; Pei-Yu Huang, prosecutor in Taiwan; Chris McDevitt, Australian Federal Police Commander

HERBERT: The trade in sex trafficking is growing internationally and Australia is cemented in this business.

BROTHEL WORKER: I give you some information about the shop.


BROTHEL WORKER: Tonight we only have Asian girls working - is okay for you?

REPORTER: Yeah I'll meet them, yeah.

BROTHEL WORKER: Okay, the price is half hour ...

HERBERT: Hundreds of women say they've been forced to work in Australia as sex slaves.

A woman known as "Rose" moved to Australia to study English at a private language school.

But soon after arriving in Melbourne, she received a phone call from her agent in China - a woman she knew by the name of 'Taiwan Linda' telling her she now had a debt of more than $20,000 and would have to work to pay it off.

ROSE: I went blank in my mind. I was really shocked.

HERBERT: The testimony was provided after a police raid at a Melbourne brothel known as Madam Leona's.

ROSE: I decided to try and leave the flat right then. I moved toward the front door and Kevin physically stopped me from leaving by using his body and arms to stand in front of me.

MALTZAHN: Down the road on the other side of Brunswick Street there is a brothel that hasn't had any trapping to my knowledge but the owner of that was convicted of child prostitution a number of years ago. Beyond that in Smith Street there is a place that has closed down now but at least one person I know, one woman I know was trafficked there.

HERBERT: Kathleen Maltzahn is an anti-trafficking campaigner and believes the cases the Federal Police have uncovered are only a fraction of the problem:

MALTZAHN: No one's really looking, no one's really counting in Australia.

HERBERT: The trail of evidence from many women trafficked to Australia - led Four Corners to the Chinese island state of Taiwan.

Justine Wang represents Taipei Women's Rescue Foundation.

WANG: For that Mrs Chen's case I think she already traffic at least hundreds more than 100 women.

HERBERT: Justine Wang says the woman known as "Taiwan Linda" plays a big role supplying women to brothels in Australia.

WANG: She hired lawyer in China to help those women pass the language test and then apply for student visa and then using their student visa to traffic women into Australia and force them into prostitution.

HERBERT: Pei-Yu Huang is a prosecutor in Taiwan. He says at least 60 girls have been trafficked from Taiwan to Australia but he says Australian police haven't requested the evidence:

PEI-YU HUANG (translated): I don't know how Australia and Taiwan can collaborate on this case but I think it is good if we can share information especially about Yao Yao (phonetic) because she trafficked Chinese girls to Australia and although we have evidence in Taiwan it's out of my jurisdiction.

HERBERT: Chris McDevitt from the AFP warns clients of brothels be warned.

MCDEVITT: If they knowingly go into these situations and knowingly use somebody who is subject to slavery, they can find themselves at the end of a criminal charge, and I would have no hesitation, and indeed would relish the opportunity of locking anybody up that was actually involved in that knowingly.

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