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Developed Countries Participation in Sex Trafficking

It is commonly thought that human trafficking is only experienced by individuals in developing countries. However, every country in the world is involved in human trafficking, whether as a source, transit or destination, including Australia (3). The exact extent to which human trafficking occurs in Australia is hard to quantify. However, it cannot be denied that it is happening across Australia.

Australia is often a final destination for individuals who are trafficked from Asia, and it is estimated that Australia is home to approximately 2.5 million victims of trafficking a year (2). While human trafficking encompasses sexual exploitation, forced marriage, and domestic servitude, reported cases suggest that forced labour is the most common form of human trafficking in Australia (1). Individuals become vulnerable to human trafficking in the form of forced labour when they are unemployed and looking to provide a stable form of financial stability, whether it be for themselves or their family (1). Human traffickers thus utilise this vulnerability and coerce individuals into taking exploitative job offers (1).

Furthermore, sex trafficking is the second most common form of human trafficking that is seen throughout Australia. In Australia, many women and children are recruited from South East Asia and China to enter into the Australian sex industry (3). The entry of these women into Australia are undertaken in a fraudulent manner, with this including false visas and passports (3). Traffickers take advantage of unprotected women and children by isolating them in the sex trafficking industry with not means of escape. Sex trafficking is largely an unreported crime; however, it is approximated that there are between 300-1000 children and women in the Australian sex trafficking industry every year (1).

There are many measures in place that aim to outlaw human trafficking in Australia. The act of human trafficking is domestically outlawed in the commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995. Division 270 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 criminalises modern slavery and slavery like practices, including domestic servitude and forced labour (5). Additionally, Division 271 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 suggests some penalties for engaging in human trafficking practices include 4 years imprisonment for debt bondage and 25 years imprisonment for the trafficking of children (5).

Additionally, the National Action Plan to Combat Modern Slavery 2020-2025 is a 5 year plan that provides a structured framework for Australia’s response to human trafficking. This plan includes five national stages to combat domestic human trafficking, including;

1. Prevent

2. Disrupt, Investigate and Prosecute

3. Support and Protect

4. Partner

5. Research (4). This national plan is only newly developed, and thus, the extent of its effeteness cannot yet be proven.

Assist the Australian Federal Police in combating issues of human trafficking. If you or anyone you know is a victim of human trafficking, call 131 AFP (131337) or email


Article by Amy Skinstad

Secretary of the NDSJS 2021

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  5. Criminal Code Act 1995

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