CANBERRA, Australia – Australia's attorney general on Wednesday introduced legislation that would broaden the legal definition of slavery to include organ trafficking and forced marriage.
Existing slavery laws mainly protect Asian women from being brought to Australia to work as sex slaves in brothels. The proposed amendments would create a new offense of forced labor to address a growing number of men and women who are exploited in other industries.
"A common factor of contemporary slavery and trafficking — from forced labor and forced marriage to organ trafficking — is the misuse and abuse of power," Attorney General Nicola Roxon told Parliament. "Such an abuse has no place here."
Australian authorities have detected only one case of trafficking for organ transplant. An elderly Sydney woman with kidney disease flew a younger woman from the Philippines with the intention of transplanting her kidney. Police intervened before the transplant took place, alleging that the younger woman had not fully consented to the plan, which was discovered during routine hospital screening interviews.
Roxon said that while such conduct was already illegal under exploitation laws, the new organ trafficking offense clarified the circumstances of a crime and increased police powers to investigate. Organ trafficking would be punishable by a 25-year prison sentence under the legislation.
Forced labor would be punishable by 12 years in prison. Using coercion, force or deception to persuade someone to marry would be punishable by a seven-year term.
Roxon said she did not believe that banning forced marriages would drive the problem underground because it is already hidden. She added that while slavery and trafficking were not common in Australia, the effect on victims is traumatic and could have lifelong consequences.
No date has been set for Parliament to vote on the bill.