Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The arrest yesterday of a man suspected to be linked to a sex trafficking ring operating in Melbourne highlights the urgent need for the Victorian Parliament to set up an inquiry into sex trafficking in Victoria, according to the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL).

ACL’s Victorian State Director Dan Flynn said the inquiry should investigate the extent of trafficking and other exploitation of people in the sex industry and the implementation of the "Nordic approach" to prevent trafficking and exploitation.

“It is apparent that Victorian government laws endorsing prostitution and brothels are being used by human traffickers to entice young Asian women into the trade,” Mr Flynn said.

“At a time where Nordic countries were successfully combating human trafficking through laws which criminalise the purchase of sex, Victoria’s policies were helping the traffickers,” he said.

The ACL has today called for federal, state and territory governments to address the causes and ‘pull factors’ of human trafficking following yesterday's arrest and recent reports that 18 pimps have been arrested in Korea for trafficking women to Australia.

“Australia has been identified by the United Nations and the US State Department as a target destination for human trafficking,” Mr Flynn said.

“The arrest in Melbourne yesterday and recent arrests in Korea show that attempts to ‘regulate’ prostitution in Australia have failed to curb the ‘demand’ for trafficked women in Australia.

“Human trafficking is the second largest illegal industry in the world. Our governments have to do more to stop this abuse of women.

“Sex slavery flourishes where prostitution is endorsed by the state. It is time our state governments recognise that legalised prostitution is a failed experiment that only increases the demand for trafficked women,” Mr Flynn said.

“Australian governments need to implement the successful approach pioneered by Sweden and adopted by a growing number of countries including Korea, Israel, Norway and Iceland.

“The ‘Nordic approach’ prohibits the purchasing of sex and offers pathways out of prostitution for women caught in the trade,” he said.

Facts about human trafficking:

• June 2012 – the US State Department identifies Australia as a destination country for trafficked persons.

• April 2012 – Watcharaporn Nantanhkum becomes the first person convicted of slavery in the Australian Capital Territory for holding a woman in sex-servitude.