23 June, 2010

It's about trafficking

Wow, big news on the Australian political front coming through!!! But I wrote this earlier today, so I am posting this, and will write on the dramas of Australian politics tomorrow!!!

It is refugee week, which celebrates the diversity of cultures present in our country, and recognises the contribution refugees make to our society. Yesterday, we looked at asylum seekers (that I like to see as fiancés of the Australian people…awaiting their full rights, but in no way illegitimate). Today, we look at a slightly different form of refugee/migrant; Trafficked people.

The ‘Inquiry into People Trafficked for Sex Work’ final report has just been released by the Parliament of Victoria (you can find the full copy of the report at http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/dcpc I encourage you to take a look through the report so that you can be informed as to the devastating oppression present in our own neighbourhoods.)

Before we tackle the report though, lets cover some of the facts of trafficking:

- women trafficked to Australia are indentured by a $15,000-$18,000 debt, which they must work off before they are freed.
- Trafficked women and girls who are prostituted in Australia suffer with active infections, pelvic inflammatory diseases, acute herpes and traumatic pelvic syndromes
- There are 3,000 children, some younger than 10, in the Australian sex industry, which includes brothels, escort work, street prostitution, pornography, sex for favours and stripping

The report highlights two things for me. One, we, the general public, are so unaware of how prevalent and oppressive trafficking is in our own country. And two, there is a belief that with regulation, advocacy, awareness and action we can seriously impede the success of would be traffickers, and free women who have been oppressed and violated.

We need to be active in this fight, and we do this in the same way we care for all other people in need. We love, care, pray, represent, stand beside, and defend. We must get to know, and then help those engaged in this specific injustice, both the victims, and others trying to help.

Within the report there is a letter written by trafficked women, in thanks to the High Court of Australia. Part of the letter is written below. Let this be an inspiration and challenge to spur you into engagement.

“What happened to us was a nightmare. We can never forget. It comes back to us in dreams. This will affect us till we die. It has changed us.

We were treated very badly. We worked from 11am to 3 or 4am. We slept only three or four hours a night. Sometimes some of us worked for 24 hours. For four or five months, all we did was prostitution. Even when we had our period, we had to work. Sometimes we worked until we couldn’t walk. We had to work until we were very, very sick and the customers refused to take us. Only then were we allowed to rest, for one day.

Some owners were not so cruel, but even when they were friendly, they still treated us like slaves.
We were made to feel like animals. Customers were violent. Some of the customers were crazy. They treated us like animals. We were sexually abused, we were dragged, we were hit. Some of us were given drugs so we could work all the time. Some of the women we know have become drug addicts, and now they have to keep doing prostitution to pay for drugs.

It was like we were in jail – we had no free time, we couldn’t go anywhere, we never had freedom. The traffickers treated us as slaves. We didn’t have anywhere to go.

It felt like we survived and died at the same time. We had to keep doing what the traffickers said, for ourselves, and for the people we loved. The traffickers threatened us – we were scared they would hurt us, or our families. Some of us thought we could be killed. We blamed ourselves for what happened, because we had wanted to come to Australia.

This changed our lives.”

If you want to help, contact justsalvos, or check out http://www.stopthetraffik.org/takeaction/

Let God’s light shine through you into all of the dark places.

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