I speak tonight on the subject of modern sex slavery, also known as human trafficking. In 2011 the United States Department of Health and Human Services stated:
“After drug trafficking, trafficking in humans ties with the illegal arms industry as the second largest criminal industry in the world today. It is the fastest growing…”
“As many as two million children are subjected to prostitution in the global commercial sex trade.”
It seems strange to be saying that there is still slavery today after the work of Abraham Lincoln and Wilberforce, who legislated more than 100 years ago to get rid of such cruelty. Sadly, there are more than 27 million enslaved people across the world today. Human trafficking is still the battlefront of this century. The United States Department of Health and Human Services describes sex slavery as follows:
Sex trafficking involves the acts of recruiting, harbouring, transporting or obtaining a person for commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud or coercion.
We should not be complacent about our situation in Australia, thinking it is an American or Asian problem. In New South Wales an estimated 10,000 prostitutes and 113 illegal brothels are operating in North Sydney, with 3,500 prostitutes working within 20 kilometres of the Sydney central business district in brothels, as street prostitutes and as private prostitutes.
I encourage members to view a hard-hitting documentary entitled Nefarious: Merchant of Souls, which reveals the nightmare of sexual slavery. We must remember the words of William Wilberforce, who did so much to combat slavery. He said:
You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again, “I did not know.”