Thursday, November 30, 2006
Human Trafficking Forum Report
It was a great night, there were over 30 people in attendance.
Major David Brunt lead the forum and we also had the privilege of hearing from Captain Lynda Van Gaalen-Prentice who is the operations manager of Mary Anderson Lodge Family violence service. Lynda has had experience working with women who have been trafficked for the purpose of sexual slavery and so her perspective was a welcome addition to the evening.
Here are some points taken from the evening:
The Salvation Army is active in Australia lobbying against the trade and working with the victims, even if we don't hear about it.
Part of the reason for this is that Agencies that are funded by the government to work with the victims are unable to advertise that they do this work as part of the funding agreement.
600,000 to 800,000 people a year are trafficked around the world.
It is the third largest illegal industry behind Arms and drugs.
Last night 1,000 women and children spent the night in Australia that had been trafficked to this country. This is a conservative government estimate.
"what rape is for others is normal for us" - victim of human trafficking speaking to a US Senate Committee
The solution is not as simple as 'send them back home' because of issues of honour/shame and cultural issues.
Traffickers also have very strong networks in local communities and their can be danger for victims families if they escape.
In Australia if a trafficked woman refuses to testify against her captor then she will be deported.
There is a major problem with the 'Stockholm syndrome' where the victim is so dependant on the captor that they become attached to them.
The Salvation Army cannot take a stand on this issue until it clarifies to its own members what is unacceptable behaviour for Salvationists.
Major Brunt commented that he has been into brothels on legitimate Army business but was unsure as to what the other Salvos were doing there.
Poverty is only one cause amongst many. But it is a major cause.
Traffickers are usually close to the victim. Fathers, Uncles and Mothers.
Many victims initially travel with consent believing they have a job waiting in the country they are going to, only to be forced into prostitution to repay their 'debt'.
Trafficked victims are also found in other exploitative sectors such as sweatshops.
Men and boys are also trafficked.
Trafficked women are forced to view hard core pornographic material and then forced to perform those acts. This is either videoed or photographed and then used to blackmail the woman to remain in servitude.
Check out this weeks Warcry article on OPAL. There is anecdotal evidence that this scheme is actively preventing people from being sold into human trafficking.
"When a man purchase a sex act he is contributing to the global sex trade"
We need to start naming 'clients' as 'monsters' to remove a positive view of the trade.
If corps are interested in having someone come and speak on the issue of Human Trafficking then contact Major David Brunt.
What can we do:
Tell people about the problem. This helps turn the tide of public opinion. We need to make the trade and use of sexual slavery unacceptable.
Write to newspapers.
Look at the personals section in your local paper. Most of these ads are for illegal brothels. Ring the paper and complain about the adverts.
Write to the Salvation Army leadership encouraging them in the work the territory is doing to combat this evil trade.