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Government's approach to sex-slaves favours traffickers.

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Senator Brian Greig Australian Democrats Spokesperson for Attorney General & Justice 24 March 2003 MEDIA RELEASE 03/171

Government’s Approach to Sex-Slaves Favours Traffickers

The Government should treat trafficked foreign women forced to work as prostitutes, as victims of crime and not as criminals.

Australian Democrats’ Attorney General and Justice spokesperson, Senator Brian Greig, says the tragic case of Thai woman, Puangthong Simaplee, raises serious questions about Australia’s treatment of trafficked sex-slaves.

Miss Simaplee was trafficked into Australia at the age of 12, and forced to work as a prostitute under sixteen years of bonded labour. Ms Simaplee was seized by authorities in September 2001 and taken straight to Villawood Detention Centre.

She died three days later of malnutrition and dehydration after being given inappropriate treatment for her drug addiction.

In Question Time today, Senator Greig asked Justice Minister Senator Ellison, if the Government would reconsider its policy of mandatory detention for trafficked and smuggled women.

“The Justice Minister seems happy with the Government’s treatment of these women, and says the mechanisms are in place to issue special visas for witnesses who can testify against people traffickers and smugglers,” Senator Greig said.

“The sad part is, such mechanisms are rarely implemented and the women are subsequently treated like criminals and immediately deported. This prevents them from giving evidence against their captors and deterring further trafficking,” Senator Greig said.

Senator Greig says the Government appears to be confused over the issue of consent and coercion, with the Justice Minister arguing that there is no evidence of a ‘slavery chain where people are brought into Australia under force’.

“The fact is, it has been reported that there are about 1000 such women in Australia under contract at any one time, held in appalling non-consensual conditions,” Senator Greig said.

Media contact: Senator Greig on 02) 6277 3338 or Di Graham 0417 177 523