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Fiona David, "Trafficking of women for sexual purposes" Australian Institute of Criminology, 2008

In 2008, more than 117 countries, including Australia, have ratified the United Nations Trafficking Protocol. These countries have agreed to a shared definition of trafficking in persons and a set of core obligations. In the Australian context, there is now a variety of criminal offences under federal law, ranging from debt bondage – which attracts a penalty of less than 12 months imprisonment – to slavery, punishable by 25 years in jail. The Australian Federal Police have undertaken more than 150 investigations related to trafficking in persons, and the federal government has provided support to 98 people on its Support for Victims of Trafficking program. While there has been substantial change, some things remain the same. Key debates still coalesce around issues including the realities of transnational migration for work, the difficulties of defining (and proving) key concepts such as exploitation and sexual violence, and the challenges of giving due respect to the agency of individuals in situations where choice is heavily constrained. While the pool of primary data that can be drawn on for research has grown, research on trafficking in persons still has challenges. The anti-trafficking response is relatively new, so the number of cases that have been identified and that are available for study is still fairly small. It can be difficult or even impossible to de-identify information or draw trends from such a small sample. Also, the bulk of the information available is drawn from cases that have come to the attention of the authorities. As with any crime type, it is likely that there are a number of structural or institutional biases that can impact on what is and what is not detected. As is the case with sexual assault or domestic violence, it is very likely that official statistics present only part of a larger, more complex picture. Finally, in a context where ‘exploitation’ is a key component of the crime type, individual and institutional political perspectives have a profound impact on selection, presentation and interpretation of information. ISSN 1326-6004 ISBN 978 1 921185 87 8
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