February 2011

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An inspiring Australian

Dr Anne Gallagher

Anti-trafficking expert Dr Anne Gallagher

Dr Anne Gallagher has worked in the areas of criminal justice, human rights and human trafficking for almost 20 years. Recognised as a global authority in her field, Dr Gallagher is a former UN adviser on human trafficking and continues to provide specialist advice on human trafficking and trafficking-related exploitation to the UN and its Member States. Since 2003 she has led a major AusAID project that works to strengthen criminal justice responses to trafficking in Southeast Asia. In Australia, Dr Gallagher has trained Australian Federal Police specialist investigators and advised federal agencies on legal issues relating to trafficking. Dr Gallagher is a scholar as well as a practitioner. She has published widely on issues related to human rights, criminal justice and trafficking and has taught at universities around the world.

Dr Gallagher, how did you first get involved in the issue of trafficking?
I was working as a human rights lawyer at the UN when the issue of trafficking began to receive international attention. Mary Robinson, the High Commissioner for Human Rights and former President of Ireland, asked me to be her adviser on this issue. I couldn't refuse!

What cemented your commitment to this issue?
I came to understand that we live in a world where the exploitation of others is tolerated and sometimes even encouraged. Traffickers are rarely investigated, prosecuted or punished. Victims rarely receive the justice they are entitled to. That is wrong and governments, as well as private individuals, need to take responsibility.

States are responsible for the harm of trafficking - they have failed to prevent that harm from occurring in the first place, or from dealing with it once it's happened.

How do you stay motivated to fight this issue?
I draw motivation from the realisation that the fight against trafficking has cast a bright light on practices that were conveniently hidden for too long: child and exploitative labour, domestic servitude, enforced and exploitative prostitution.

Our eyes have been opened. We can no longer wish away what is right in front of us.

Is there a person you would like to highlight or celebrate on International Women's Day?
I've had the unsettling privilege of working in Burma for the past eight years. International Women's Day provides a fine opportunity for us to recognise the courage and dignity of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the women of her country. History will salute them. We should do the same.

IWD logo

Celebrate International Women's Day on 8 March.

What, in your view, are the major successes in the fight to end trafficking?
For me, the greatest achievement has been the ending of what was almost a conspiracy of silence around human exploitation. This is now a matter of international concern that gets noticed and reported. The way in which a country responds to trafficking can now be judged against an international standard that applies to everyone. That is a huge step forward.

How is Australia doing in the fight against trafficking?
Australia has made great progress, particularly over the last five years. We have started to understand the nature and extent of the trafficking problem in this country and begun to build the laws, institutions and services that are needed to identify trafficking cases, prosecute exploiters and protect and support victims. Australia has also delivered world-class technical assistance to its neighbours in Southeast Asia through the AusAID funded ARTIP project.

What could Australia be doing better?
Australia's "first-wave" response has been a commendable one but it is now time for a second wave that will seek out and incorporate international best practice. In my view, this would need to include a review of the current legal framework around trafficking and labour exploitation as well as a greater commitment to victim support and to genuine specialisation of the criminal justice response.

What's something a young person can do about this issue?
Acknowledge that you are growing up in an unfair, unjust and hypocritical world. Learn about it; talk about it with your friends; encourage each other to consider the way you think, the way you consume, the way you treat those who do not have your privileges and protections.

Decide that you want a better world and start thinking about what that would look like.

Celebrate International Women's Day!

  • Find out more about human trafficking and slavery and what you can do to help.
  • Look at Reuters' stunning images in this slideshow.
  • Thank a woman who inspires you, or honour someone creating change for people in the world.

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In this edition
Trafficking: we all have a part to play
An inspiring Australian
Australians say "Give Child Labour the Sack!"
Trained midwives save lives

3 things you can do this month:
Join World Voice and speak up about poverty and injustice.
Ask your MP to tackle exploited labour with local business and Clean up our electorate!
Look at Reuters' stunning images celebrating International Women's Day

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Last Modified: Last Modified: Tuesday, 15 February 2011