Federal police are calling on schools across the country to keep an eye out for the warning signs of forced marriage in a renewed bid to disrupt human trafficking in Australia. Source: ABC News.
The latest figures from the Australian Federal Police show reports of human trafficking in Australia are on the rise, prompting a new public awareness campaign.
The AFP received 340 reports of human trafficking in the 2022-23 financial year, an increase of 13 per cent from the previous year.
Forced marriage was among the most common incidents of human trafficking, with 90 reports in the 12-month period — half of which involved underage victims.
Among the cases handled by the AFP in 2022 was an underage girl who disclosed that her parents were intending to book flights to send her overseas, possibly to marry her.
The girl had also received death threats from immediate and extended family members after they found she had communicated with a boy outside of the family group.
After being interviewed by human trafficking experts, authorities obtained a court order to remove her from the family home and placed travel alerts on her family members.
As students across Australia begin a new school year in the coming weeks, AFP Commander of Human Exploitation Helen Schneider said teachers, parents and fellow students were often the first to see the signs.
“If the victim is someone still within school age, that might be the only access they have outside of what might be a controlling environment,” Commander Schneider said.
“By educating the community of the prevalence of forced marriage and building awareness, particularly for those involved in school communities, we hope more people are empowered to seek help and report their experiences or suspicions to the AFP.”
Schools urged to be on lookout for signs of forced marriage as numbers rise across Australia (By Lia Harris, ABC News)