‘Harrowing’: Horror of exit trafficking revealed
A Sydney man faces up to 12 years in jail after pleading guilty to "exit trafficking" an Indian-born woman and two month-old-baby from Australia to India.
Pardeep Lohan, from Lidcombe in Sydney's west, used threats, coercion and deception to force the woman to travel to India, while he gave false information to the Immigration Department in a bid to revoke her visa.
The 29-year-old had threatened to kill the woman and her family if she didn't do what he wanted and leave Australia.
CCTV footage from Sydney international airport shows her at the departure gate distressed and being blocked from leaving by Lohan.
She told police felt she had no choice but to get on the plane.
But when she arrived back in India she enlisted the help of her family and managed to return to Australia just before her visa was cancelled.
She contacted Anti-Slavery Australia, a support organisation for victims of slavery and trafficking, and NSW Police for help.
Lohan was charged and served with court attendance notices, but was later arrested trying to board a flight to India.
He has now pleaded guilty to one count of exit trafficking and one count of forging documents to dishonestly influence an Australian official and will be sentenced in the District Court next year.
The case of Lohan, is one of a growing number of exit trafficking cases which carry a maximum penalty of 12 years imprisonment.
Recent cases involve young Australian women being rescued after being tricked by family into travelling overseas thinking they were going to study - only to discover they the intention was forced marriage.
Details of the clandestine rescue have never been made public before and come as it can be revealed two other woman from Queensland and the Northern Territory, have been rescued after being exit trafficked by their partners.
Separately in September, a 28-year-old Darwin man was charged with exit trafficking his wife to India and stealing more than $60,000 from her and her relatives.
It is alleged the man tricked his wife into flying to India on the pretence he was organising visas for them to travel to the US.
AFP Commander of Child Protection Operations, Detective Superintendent Paula Hudson, said "Exit trafficking is ensuring someone is trafficked out of the country by deceptive means for the sole purpose of exploiting them in some way."
"It is quite a harrowing experience," said Det Superintendent Hudson and the key to the crime of exit trafficking is lying about the reasons someone has to travel - with the intention of exploitation.
Last year, the Australian Institute of Criminology reported that 841 cases of human trafficking and slavery were reported in a 13-year period from 2004 to 2017 but only 21 offenders were convicted.
Australia's first Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Professor Jennifer Burn who runs Anti-Slavery Australia at UTS in Sydney, told a law conference earlier this year it is believed that just one in five victims of slavery are ever detected.
Anti-Slavery researcher Carolyn Liaw said exit trafficking affects mainly women and children and forced marriage is now the number case type at Anti-Slavery Australia.
Ms Liaw said they have seen exit trafficking cases where women on temporary or spousal visas are lied to and sent overseas only to be abandoned in a foreign jurisdiction and cut off financially.
Accredited specialist immigration lawyer Anne O'Donoghue said there is still a lack of awareness, identification and publicity about the support available for victims.
"Quite often victims do not realise they have been subject to modern slavery offences," said Mrs O'Donogue.
Cases of trafficking for forced marriage, which includes exit trafficking, was up from 11 cases in 2014, to 91 in the last year.
In the past five years 108 people had been exit trafficked for forced marriage to 17 different countries.
The Red Cross Support for Trafficked People Program Data Snapshot 2009 to 2019 reveals women and girls are still the most affected by human trafficking.
In the last financial year there were 223 cases of trafficking and slavery reported.
Originally published as 'Harrowing': Horror of exit trafficking revealed