escaping poverty
Women from various Asian countries are being lured to Australia under the pretense of escaping poverty and living a happy married life; however, too often they are faced with exploitation and oppression.

These brides are living in slave-like marriages, where they are constantly abused. Some have reported being kept in isolation, denied basic rights, exploited for work, restricted to the home and denied money.

Immigration data shows that the women in these marriages are coming from China, India, the Philippines and Vietnam, among others. Many of these women agreed to these marriages to escape poverty and terrible living conditions experienced in their home countries.

Authorities have found it difficult to determine the exact number of women engaging in these relationships because victims are often kept in severe isolation and are punished if they attempt to seek help.

A large part of the problem lies in the fact that women are forbidden to report the crimes and are dependent on their perpetrators for survival. They face the possibility of deportation if their husbands claim they are illegal citizens.

The Walk Free Foundation published a global slavery index in October, which indicated that approximately 3,300 people are living in modern-day slavery in Australia.

Action is being taken to alleviate the problem. Tony Abbott, Australia’s Prime Minister, announced that the country would invest $94 million to fight domestic violence. This money will be focused on women from culturally diverse and indigenous backgrounds. Additionally, forced marriages have been deemed illegal, while forced labor laws were strengthened in 2013.

Jenny Stanger, a Salvation Army worker who works at a refuge for trafficked people in Sydney, said, “It’s an absolute deception on the part of the perpetrator.” She is working tirelessly to see laws passed that will provide these women with options in their situations. “They [the victims] are looking for a way out, so…the more doors we can open, the more likely someone is going to step through that door.”

– Hannah Cleveland

Sources: Malay Mail Online, The Guardian
Photo: The Guardian

A report released by the Walk Free Foundation has revealed that approximately 29.6 million people are kept in various forms of slavery. Among these are sexual exploitation, debt bondage, and forced marriage.

China, India, and Pakistan are among the worst offenders, with an estimated 18 million slaves combined. Although there are fewer slaves, Mauritania and Haiti have the highest proportion of slaves, with approximately 3 and 2 percent of their respective populations being held in slavery.

“Today some people are still being born into hereditary slavery, a staggering but harsh reality, particularly in parts of West Africa and South Asia,” the report states.

“Other victims are captured or kidnapped before being sold or kept for exploitation, whether through ‘marriage,’ unpaid labor on fishing boats, or as domestic workers…Others are tricked and lured into situations they cannot escape, with false promises of a good job or an education.”


Facts on Modern Slavery


Many of the slaves in Haiti are children, which stems from the cultural practice called “restavek,” where poor families send their children to work for richer families in exchange for room and board. This arrangement often leads to abuse, as well as the children running away. These runaways can end up being trafficked into prostitution or forced begging.

Servile marriages make up a large portion of the problem in India. With an inefficient legal system, victims are discouraged from seeking help from law enforcement. Those without identification papers are especially vulnerable, with no means of proving their identity.

The report also shows that no country is free from slavery, with 59,000 people enslaved in the United States, 6,000 in Canada, and 4,500 in the United Kingdom. Iceland is at the bottom of the list in both absolute and per capita, with less than 100 slaves.

David Smith

Sources: Al Jazeera, Global Slavery Index
Photo: The CNN Freedom Project