Monday, August 15, 2005

Australian sex traffickers target Korean women: report

Source: Agence France-Presse English Wire

SYDNEY, Aug 13 (AFP) - Traffickers are turning to South Korean women after a crackdown by Australian police on the importation of "sex slaves" from Thailand, Australia's national broadcaster has charged.

The Australian Crime Commission confirmed that while the number of Thai sex workers in Australia had decreased, the number from South Korea had increased, the ABC website reported Saturday.

"Traffickers in particular knew that Thai women were being watched more, they were being scrutinised more," said Kathleen Altzahn from the non-government organisation Project Respect.

"In the case specifically of South Korean women, they don't have to get the same sort of visas as Thai women. They can get working holiday visas, so then they can work legally in Australia without so much difficulty."

Thai women are often gang-raped, starved and beaten to coerce them into accepting the conditions of contracts which demand they pay "debts" of up to 50,000 dollars (37,500 US dollars) to the traffickers, she said.

A former sex worker, Nikki, told the Lateline programme there seemed to be a shift where Thai women were still being brought out to Australian brothels but so were many Korean women.

"Traffickers are just finding another way, basically, to get around things," she said. "It's gone from Thai women and now there's a demand for let's say more exotic Asian women like Korean women.

"I have a prediction that the next spate will be African women. And where there is a demand, someone will supply."

Justice Minister Chris Ellison was quoted as saying he was pleased that the shift from Thai women to South Korean women had been picked up because police could now adjust their tactics.

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