Exit trafficking and forced marriage are now recognised as two types of modern slavery that exist in Australia. Exit trafficking includes situations where a person is sent overseas believing they will be returning to Australia, however, the perpetrator has conspired to ensure they do not return. For example, a young man may be sent overseas for what he believes is a holiday, however, his family has planned for him to remain overseas, against his will, because they don’t agree with the choices he was making in his life. An example of exit trafficking for forced marriage is when a young woman believes her overseas trip is to spend time with family, but is deceived about the purpose of the trip, and on arrival her passport is taken and she is forced to marry a person not of her choice.
It can be almost impossible for people caught in this situation to return to Australia. However, as Australian citizens or permanent residents, they have a right to return home.
Anti-Slavery Australia approached the Mercy Foundation to discuss the possibility of a grant to help pay for costs to bring people back to Australia, who have been exit trafficked. The individual concerned generally does not have the funds to pay for their fare. The Mercy Foundation was able to provide a grant to help cover costs such as travel, phone and accommodation, needed to bring the person home safely.
This grant has assisted a young person who was taken to East Africa where they faced forced marriage, to return home. This person spent months living in fear of an imminent marriage. With the support of a number of organisations, they were able to return to Australia and is now being supported by specialist services to help them restart their life.
In another case, a child was exit trafficked by their parents. They were able to return to Australia safely, using funds from the grant.
Anti-Slavery Australia works with the Australian Federal Police, DFAT, Red Cross and a number of agencies and services across the world. Every effort is made to ensure that contact with the individual is discreet and that he or she is not placed in any danger. The safety of the individual is paramount in all decision making.
Exit-trafficking is highly traumatic for the person concerned. On returning to Australia, it may be impossible for the individual to continue any relationship with their family. Prevention is a much better option for all concerned. It is important for the community to be aware of the signs of trafficking and forced marriage, and to know how to respond. See www.mybluesky.org.au for more information.