July 24, 2012
Sr Margaret Ng rsj, who is the contact person for the Josephite Counter-Trafficking Project, told of her ministry of support and advocacy on behalf of people who have been trafficked in Australia and internationally.
|Sr Margaret Ng, centre, with Sr Elizabeth Young rsm,
Will – a seminarian, Fr P. Crotty PP,
Gerald Quirk, Sr Moreen Featherstone rsj.
Margaret addressed at least eighty interested people at public meetings in Port Pirie, Port Augusta and Kensington and organised a successful meeting between representatives of the Department of Immigration and the Federal Police and members of ACRATH SA.
An outcome of this meeting was the acknowledgement that, while there are some indicators that trafficked people are working in this state, there have been no identified cases of sex trafficking in South Australia. It is likely that labour trafficking and debt bondage are occurring here but the local authorities are disadvantaged in the performance of their roles because of the fear associated with holders of authority and the need for secrecy in relation to anything that might reflect badly on family connections.
In the public meetings, Margaret explained that the Josephite Counter-Trafficking Project (JCTP) is committed to promoting and upholding the human rights of people who have been trafficked and gave examples of instances where she has been successful in assisting very vulnerable people and how, in order to achieve her aims, she, on behalf of the project, collaborates with other religious, government and NGO groups involved in providing services to trafficked persons.
For many of her hearers, Margaret’s message was both informative and confronting as it is possible to be totally unaware that humans are being trafficked into our society by the use of threats or force, by abduction, fraud or deception, or by paying a person who has control of the victim. Victims are exploited, including sexually, put into forced labour or enslaved, or suffer the removal of bodily organs. All is done for the profit of the trafficker.
Today Human Trafficking is a worldwide problem, with an estimated 27 million people being enslaved across the world and it is the second or third largest source of income for organised crime. Project Respect estimates that between 1000 and 1500 women are trafficked into Australia each year while a UNICEF study reports that 200,000 children are trafficked annually in West and Central Africa.
Those in the greatest danger of being trafficked are marginalised women and children, especially those from ethnic minorities, indigenous peoples, hill tribes, refugees and illegal migrants, illiterate women, runaway girls, people looking for work to support their families and people who unaware of their legal rights.
It is difficult for a trafficked person to get help because they cannot speak the local language or they think they are to blame for being there or they believe they have a contract that has to be honoured. In particular, many fear serious repercussions for themselves or their families if they do not cooperate.
Several organisations, including the Josephites, Australian Institute of Criminology, the Federal Police, the Salvation Army and the CFMEU, (Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union), all assist trafficked people gain access to services where they will be assisted in obtaining safe, suitable and sustainable accommodation and income support, access to medical, legal and migration assistance and language and appropriate skills development training.
Margaret concluded her talk by challenging her hearers to move out of their Comfort Zones and to try to walk in the shoes of the trafficked people. Age is not an excuse for doing nothing and does not prevent a person from speaking in an informal way of these issues and making them known to others.