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AUS: New Law to Combat International Sex Trade

Wednesday 11 August 1999

Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Amanda Vanstone, today welcomed the successful passage through Parliament of legislation to outlaw sexual slavery and servitude.

"This Act sends a firm message to the organisers and recruiters of the international trade in sex workers that Australia will not tolerate their crimes," Senator Vanstone said.

"Those involved in this evil activity will face penalties of up to 25 years in prison.

"This insidious trade involves recruiting young women and girls from impoverished communities and luring them to work as prostitutes in another country.

"These young women and girls are then kept in slave-like conditions and forced to continue working under express or implied threats, while profits go to the organisers."

To combat this trade, the Criminal Code Amendment [Slavery and Sexual Servitude] Act contains new offences directed at slavery, sexual servitude and deceptive recruiting. Where conduct amounts to 'slavery', or exercising ownership over another person, the maximum penalty will be 25 years imprisonment.

Where a person is engaged to provide sexual services because of force or threats and is not free to cease or depart, those responsible will face penalties of up to 15 years imprisonment, or 19 years imprisonment if the victim is aged under 18. A person who deceptively induces another person to provide sexual services will face a penalty of up to 7 years imprisonment, or 9 years imprisonment if the victim is aged under 18.

"The offences in the Act are the Commonwealth's part of a proposed package of complementary Commonwealth, State and Territory legislation directed at eliminating these practices," Senator Vanstone said.

"The Commonwealth's legislation is targeted at the worst cases - slavery - and also at those responsible for sexual servitude and deceptive recruiting with an international connection. It is proposed that State and Territory offences will target local cases of deceptive recruiting and sexual servitude where there is no known overseas connection."

The offences in the Act are based on model provisions developed by the Model Criminal Code Officers' Committee after nationwide consultation, as part of the Committee's brief to promote greater uniformity in criminal law across Australia.

"In passing this legislation, Australia has led the world in protecting women who become victims of this inhumane trade and, at the same time, has sent a firm message to the organisers and recruiters that Australia will not be a destination for their trade."

Australian Institute of Criminology

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