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Sex Trafficking and Human Rights

What is Trafficking?

The most comprehensive definition of trafficking is found in the Palermo Protocol and CATWA maintains that this definition should be adopted in its entirety by governments.

It is commonly thought that trafficking must involve the movement of a person across an international border, against their will and using force. However, the protocol shows that this is not the case. The definition of trafficking in the protocol is much broader.

Firstly, it involves just any one of the following – recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a person. Trafficking does not require all of these occur, only one of them. Importantly, the definition does not include crossing a border.

Secondly, the definition of how this happens is very broad. It includes the threat of or use of force or coercion, deception, fraud, or abduction. It could also involve abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or giving or receiving payments or benefits. Trafficking requires only one of these means to have been used.

Thirdly, the definition makes it clear that trafficking is for the purpose of exploitation, and specifically mentions the exploitation of the prostitution of others.

There are two other key parts to the definition. Article 3b states that consent of the victim is irrelevant. This means, for example, that if a person consented to their recruitment because of a deception, this is still trafficking. Article 3c makes it clear that any child under the age of 18 who is exploited is a victim of trafficking. Since the protocol regards prostitution as exploitation, this makes any child prostitute a victim of trafficking.

Trafficking resources

Here are links to some important trafficking resources

Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP). This report is produced each year by the U.S. Department of State and give a country by country update on trafficking.

Human Trafficking and Slavery Offenders in Australia. This 2013 report by the Australian Institute of Criminology details 15 convictions for human trafficking, almost all of which were for sex trafficking.

Summary of Australian Trafficking cases.  Compiled by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime the link relates to 14 cases of sex trafficking in Australia

Submission to Victorian Government Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee’s Inquiry into People Trafficking for Sex Work 2009

The Age newspaper’s multimedia site on trafficking in Australia (2009). It contains interviews with police and brothel owners and first hand accounts from trafficked women. The site provides an insight into the world of sex trafficking.

Sex Slavery: ABC TV 4 Corners Investigation (2011)

Final Report of Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee’s Inquiry into People Trafficking for Sex Work 2010

Government response to this report 2011

Trafficking in Women for Sexual Exploitation Lara Fergus (Australian Institute of Family Studies) 2005

Joint Parliamentary Committee on Australian Crime Commission – Report from the Inquiry into Trafficking in Women for Sexual Servitude (2004)

CATWA submission to this inquiry

Government response to the report (2006)

Australia and the Traffic in Women into Sexual Exploitation Sheila Jeffreys 2002