“Exit trafficking” - a new form of human trafficking - FreedomUnited.org

“Exit trafficking” – a new form of human trafficking

  • Published on
    June 1, 2024
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  • Category:
    Human Trafficking
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Australia has recognized – and prosecuted – a new form of human trafficking that focuses on the departure, instead of the arrival, of the victim.

As another prosecution of “exit trafficking” is secured, The Guardian tells the stories of victims who were tricked out of the country, through using deception as a means of coercion.

Resilience amidst abuse

Priya’s story reveals the manipulative and coercive control perpetrators deploy to get their victims to leave the country. At home in Australia, Priya’s* husband, on whom her visa status depended, kept her isolated through the threat of being killed and subjected her to relentless abuse.

He abandoned her the day before a planned trip together to Thailand. With her visa about to expire and his warning to leave, Priya felt she had no choice but to take the trip with no clear way to return.

In a recent prosecution, the perpetrator was a Melbourne man who abandoned his wife in South Sudan without her passport, taking their children and leaving her stranded for two years. He was convicted of “exit trafficking” and faces up to 12 years in jail.

Exit trafficking…

A migration lawyer explains to The Guardian that those most vulnerable to “exit trafficking” are women without secure immigration status, dependent on husbands for their visas, and who are experiencing domestic violence.

Perpetrators, usually in domestic relationships with their victims, manipulate them by threatening to cancel visas and use psychological abuse to ensure their victims feel they have no choice but to comply.

“It’s not uncommon to hear the perpetrator provide misinformation such as ‘to get your visa, you have to stay with me.’ So there’s a lot of misinformation. It sounds very convincing. And they say it in such a way that they’re consistently providing this information so that they believe all of that.” – Stephanie Vejar, senior migration lawyer at Women’s Legal Service Victoria

However, Professor Jennifer Burns, Director of Anti-Slavery Australia, explains that she sees many cases of young women who are Australian citizens and residents, as victims of “exit trafficking” for the purposes of forced marriage overseas.

Speaking to The Guardian Professor Burns explains that:

“The widespread lack of awareness around exit trafficking means that this cohort is unlikely to know that what they have experienced is a crime and that they have rights and entitlements under Australian law.”

… is it human trafficking?

Human trafficking is defined by three common characteristics – the act, the means, and the purpose of exploitation. In “exit trafficking”, the act is the transportation overseas and the means is the use of deception. The purpose of exploitation is not always clearly defined in these cases but can include forced marriage; isolating the victim; and asserting control over joint children.

Australia’s recognition of “exit trafficking” as a form of human trafficking highlights the continual transmutation of trafficking – the changing ways in which victims are exploited under the broad umbrella of modern slavery – and the importance of awareness raising to counter this endemic human rights abuse.


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Carrie Hartigan
Carrie Hartigan
12 days ago

Domestic/ intimate partner abuse truly knows no bounds how low an abuser will go to abuse a vulnerable person and their children. Goes without saying anyone doing such, and governmental authorities contributing to harms by not connecting victims with services, is perpetuating victims grief.

When women go to doctors, often ask, if a victim of domestic/ intimate partner abuse- should feel safe in these types of situations, without fear of alerting abuser they reported to get help.

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