Even though Australia has already committed resources to combating human trafficking, an independent United Nations human rights expert has called on Australian authorities to do more for crisis which is deemed to be underestimated and underreported, leaving many trafficked victims of the sex industry without the help that they need.
The UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, Joy Ngozi Ezeiol, commented on the fact that especially women and children where especially vulnerable to ending up as trafficking victims in Australia, which is considered a “destination country” for human trafficking.
Ms. Ezeiol stated that “Australia has shown strong leadership and committed considerable resources to combating trafficking in persons. However, I still observe that there is no national plan of action for combating trafficking with clear indicators for measuring outcome and impact.”
She also commented on how she “observed that the issue of trafficking in persons in Australia is sexualized and often conflated with prostitution. There is a need to move away from over-sexualizing the discourse on trafficking, which invariably contributes to the common stereotype of victims of trafficking as being women and girls forced into prostitution or other forms of sexual exploitation.”
Victim-centered responses could be policies based on rebuilding the trafficking victim’s self-worth and identity within society. One of the controversial recommendations included in victim-centered responses includes decriminalizing women in prostitution in order to engender trust towards authorities and security in seeking assistance.
However, sexual abuse is not the only reason for human trafficking into Australia. More attention must also be paid to adoption laws and regulations, as children from neighbouring countries may be trafficked into Australian adoptive families via apparently legal means.
An issue for victims of trafficking who are not identified as such is that they may find themselves treated as illegal migrants in destination countries. They may find themselves deported back to their home countries, and exposed to the risk of being re-trafficked.
A special concern with trafficking remains rehabilitating children who have been victims. Ms. Ezeilo recommended that Australia provide specialist services for child victims of trafficking to take into account their needs in such areas as education, protective care and housing.
It is also important to help children reintegrate with their families or repatriate back into their home countries if it is safe for them to do so.
The top 10 countries of origin for victims of human trafficking are Albania, Belarus, Bulgaria, China, Lituania, Nigeria, the Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russia, Thailand and Ukraine.