|A story that goes inside the world of human trafficking, debt bondage and sexual servitude; a world where women are bought and sold, traded like commodities and literally enslaved.
Around Australia there are hundreds of legal brothels. Thousands of women sell their bodies for profit. Now, in a joint Four Corners/The Age special investigation, reporter Sally Neighbour exposes the brutal illegal off-shoot of the sex industry: sex slavery. In a report that exposes the worst excesses of human trafficking she reveals how networks of criminal gangs are luring women to Australia, where they are forced to work as sex slaves. If they refuse they are beaten and their families are threatened.
"What happened to us was a nightmare. We worked from 11am to 3 or 4am the next morning, and slept only three or four hours. They treated us like animals. We were sexually abused, we were dragged, we were hit." Former sex slave, from Melbourne
Like any business, the trade in flesh thrives on consumer demand. Sex trafficking and sexual slavery exists because customers want Asian women who are reputed to be more compliant to their needs. Many of the Asian sex workers in Australia are here willingly. However some are trapped, humiliated, placed in debt bondage and forced to put their lives in danger by having unprotected sex with hundreds of men.
The Four Corners/The Age investigation begins in brothels in Australia's major cities. Using public records and information gathered from industry insiders, we investigate the extent of the networks and detail the methods used by the gangs and their standover men to force women to work in this brutal industry.
Following evidence of an international syndicate, reporter Sally Neighbour goes to Asia to track the people who work to snare the women, and discovers a highly organised operation that has trafficked hundreds of women around the world, including scores to Australia.
Once the women arrive here, the owners play a cat and mouse game with authorities, moving their captives from brothel to brothel and even interstate, to prevent police from finding them.
It's clear that right now in Australia women are being held as sex slaves. It's also true traffickers remain at large and brothels using trafficked women remain open. Many Australian men are, knowingly or unknowingly, paying for sex from the enslaved women. The question is, what will authorities do to stop this criminal trade?