“Human trafficking and similar forms of exploitation affect every country on earth. They flourish because of society’s greed for cheap goods and services and because it is so easy to forget that those who meet these needs are human beings with their own innate God-given dignity.”
Those are the words of Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv, Chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, in his foreword to Human Trafficking and Slavery: A response from Australian Catholics. The paper, the latest in the ACSJC’s Catholic Social Justice Series, is written by Christine Carolan, Executive Officer of Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH), and Sr Noelene Simmons SM, ACRATH’s Project Officer for NSW.
The paper looks at slavery and related crimes in the modern world, at the Church’s teaching, and at the international and Australian laws that deal with this abuse. The paper then discusses ACRATH’s work advocating on behalf of victims of human trafficking, educating Australians, and working alongside organisations here and overseas to shut down human trafficking.
Co-author Christine Carolan said many people do not realise that human trafficking affects us in Australia. “There is the ever-present reality of women who are trafficked for sexual exploitation, but people are also regularly trafficked into Australia in industries such as agriculture, hospitality, construction, mining and fishing.
“Many Australians are now asking whether their clothing and food – chocolate, for example – have been produced by forced or trafficked labour. ACRATH has campaigned successfully for ethical sourcing of food and clothing.
“Forced marriage is another area where young people, overwhelmingly young women, need help and support. People often don’t realise that forced marriage is illegal in Australia and that help is available for those who are facing that possibility.”
ACRATH has developed a set of study notes that can be used for senior schools or for any groups wanting to explore the issue of human trafficking.
In his foreword, Bishop Vincent says that ACRATH’s “tireless networking, education, research, advocacy and accompaniment have made a huge difference for people who have been trafficked and exploited in Australia.”
Human Trafficking and Slavery, Catholic Social Justice Series No 79, is available from the ACSJC for $A7.50. To place your order, click here.