Draft legislation to make it easier for police and prosecution authorities to crack down on modern slavery in New South Wales has been welcomed by the Archbishop of Sydney, Glenn Davies. The Archbishop was in the public gallery of the New South Wales Legislative Council yesterday (Thursday) as MLC Paul Green introduced his Modern Slavery Bill. Archbishop Glenn said that the Bill “deserves the wholehearted support of the Parliament and the people of NSW.”
He added: “Human trafficking is an abhorrent form of modern slavery. It is a trans-national crime which preys upon the most vulnerable. Human trafficking should be abolished in all its forms from our world, along with other practices of enslavement, such as servitude, forced labour, debt bondage, organ trafficking, deceptive recruiting, as well as forced marriage and childhood brides.
“Such practices are a blight on our society, as they were in the days of William Wilberforce, and I urge all people, especially Christians, to join the fight to eradicate slavery in all its forms.”
In addition of its overriding aim of combating modern slavery, the Bill has a number of objectives, including the provision of assistance and support for victims, the creation of an anti-slavery Commissioner, mandatory reporting of risks of modern slavery occurring in the supply chains of some types of companies, to make forced marriage of a child and certain slavery and slavery-like conduct offences in New South Wales, and making it an offence to “administer a digital platform for the purpose of child abuse material”.
Introducing the Bill, Mr Green told members of the Legislative Assembly that “Human trafficking includes slavery and slavery like practices such as servitude, forced labour, debt bondage, organ trafficking, deceptive recruiting and child cybersex trafficking as well as forced marriage and childhood brides.
“Unfortunately, the data does not reflect the true levels of modern slavery due to its very nature of being a clandestine activity that hides in the shadow of our communities on a daily basis. However, according to the Global Slavery Index 2016, it is estimated that 45.8 million people worldwide, and more than 4,000 people in Australia, are victims of some form of slavery. Drugs are sold once and used, but people can be sold time and time again.”
Introducing his Modern Slavery Bill in the Legislative Council of the NSW Parliament, MLC Paul Green quoted Proverbs 31:8: “Speak out on behalf of the voiceless, and for the rights of all who are vulnerable.”
Photo: Jesse Bass Martin / Wikimedia
He told MLCs that the Assistant Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police, Debbie Platz, had said that Australians can pay as little as $40 AUD (approximately £23 GBP) to watch a child in a south east Asian raped online. He quoted Platz saying that “Australians can get online and order a child, and order what they would like happen to that child, and that could mean anything from undressing of a child and seeing them naked, right through to torture, rape and in the most extreme cases . . . the murder of a child.”
He continued: “It is deeply disturbing and heartbreaking. It shakes one to the core to contemplate that happening to any child. It is even more excruciating to imagine that sometimes long after the abuse has ceased the images and videos continue to be distributed on the dark web like a double-edged sword causing additional pain and suffering for the victim. The depravity of mankind knows no bounds.
“According to the United Nations 2016 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, 79 per cent of human trafficking is for sexual exploitation and the victims are predominantly women and girls. Children account for 20 per cent of trafficked victims worldwide. That is approximately 9.16 million children, or the equivalent of 16,838 A380 plane loads of children.
“I have heard of the rise of young girls forced into illegal marriage, exposing them to long-term abuse and rape with the consent of their families. It is important to note under-age forced marriage is not limited to any particular culture, religion or ethnicity. Regardless of religious or cultural background, it is unacceptable and reprehensible to expose children to a forced marriage whether it happens in Australia or through taking the child overseas.”
The debate on the Bill was adjourned.
Human trafficking and modern slavery is a key campaign issue for Anglicans throughout the Communion and has been discussed at recent meetings of both the Anglican Consultative Council and Primates’ Meetings.