No, I’m not talking about you getting stuck in peak hour on the Ipswich Motorway. Trafficking is a term that is often used for those caught up in the drug trade as dealers. It is also used for those who arrange for illegal immigrants to get to our shores. However the kind of trafficking that particularly bothers me at the moment is the trafficking that takes place in what is often referred to as the “sex industry”.

Last week the ABC had a program on that kind of trafficking. One of their reporters participated in a police raid, somewhere in England, on some people who had been enticing young girls to come to England with the promises of work and the chance of a better life. These people operated from an East European country that was formerly part of the Soviet Bloc. Girls who were lured from there to Britain by these low-life operators were then used as sex-slaves for prostitution.

Here in Australia many of these “sex workers” are Asians who have been lured to Australia by false promises. In some instances these girls are sought out by men who date them and then propose to them, making them an offer of marriage. Once here the girls are kept as virtual slaves.

In some instances these young girls become domestic slaves – like the 17 year-old Indian lass who came to Canberra after an arranged marriage. Three days after her marriage she came to Australia and was picked up from the airport by the husband and his girlfriend and was taken to a house where some eighteen family members were living. She was expected to be their slave – cooking, cleaning, looking after little children and an elderly couple who also lived there. The relationship with her husband was fake and it was some months before she could escape her slave-like conditions.

In the ABC program I was watching the reporter actually went to the East-European country in question and spoke to police there who were trying to stop trafficking from their end. He also visited a convicted trafficker in prison. This particular man told how he had enticed a young woman to come to Italy to marry him. Once there he used her for prostitution. Obviously these men do this because there is big money to be made. In this instance the man related that on a good night the girl might have as many as twenty “clients”. This man had a wife and three children in another country.

So what makes these girls stay with such men? Language is a huge problem. Most find themselves in a country where they cannot speak the language. Their freedom to move around is usually seriously curtailed. In some cases the men promise them that this is only temporary to help them get themselves financially established. In many instances girls are threatened and mistreated.

Locally here in Toowoomba our newspaper has a page of “adult” advertisements with accompanying photos of females – usually faceless. Last year this newspaper picked up an item on trafficking in Sydney. At that time I wrote a ‘letter to the editor’ asking whether the newspaper made sure that it wasn’t guilty of double standards. I suggested that they needed to make sure that if they were going to continue running these kinds of “adult” advertisements that none of the girls had been trafficked to Australia as sex-slaves. The paper chose not to publish my letter.

Most Australians would be under the illusion that since slavery was abolished some 180 years ago it is no longer a problem today. Not so. Many migrant workers come to Australia illegally and work in slave-like conditions and the sex-trade slavery is particularly obnoxious in robbing young women of their freedom.

We as Christians who know that all human beings are made in the image of God ought to speak out against this abuse of human rights that is happening here right under our eyes. Our newspaper needs to stop running these obnoxious advertisements – not just because “sex industry” adverts are offensive and degrading but also because they play into the hands of these low-life traffickers.