Victorian woman jailed for slavery

Started by blackmanx, Jun 12, 2006, 12:05 PM

previous topic - next topic
Go Down


Victorian woman jailed for slavery
Email Print Normal font Large font Daniella Miletic
June 10, 2006

Former brothel owner Wei Tang.
Photo: Craig Abraham

Web links
LINK Full judgement
AdvertisementTHE first person in Australia to be found guilty of possessing sex slaves will spend at least six years in jail.

Wei Tang, a former Fitzroy brothel owner, was sentenced in the County Court yesterday to 10 years' jail, with a minimum term of six years, for keeping five Thai women as sex slaves. Each had to work off debts of up to $45,000.

Tang, who wept as she was sentenced, is the first person found guilty under Australia's sexual servitude laws, which carry a maximum of 25 years' jail.

The women worked six-day weeks in Tang's Club 417 brothel in Brunswick Street. On their day off they could choose to work for spending money.

The women were brought to Melbourne from Thailand knowing they would work in the sex industry and hoping to eventually be able to work legally. All had worked in the sex industry in Thailand.

Tang, 44, formerly of North Balwyn, pleaded not guilty to five counts of possessing a slave and five counts of exercising power over a slave. A jury found her guilty of all charges earlier this month. Details of the case were suppressed until yesterday.

The offences occurred between August 2002 and May 2003, and the five women were found during an Immigration Department raid on Club 417.

They had had their passports taken from them and were forced to perform sex acts to cover the costs of air fares, visas, passports and living costs. Clients would pay $110 for sex, but only $50 went to paying off their debt. Two women had repaid their debt before they were discovered.

One victim was told on arrival in Melbourne that she would have to service between 500 and 600 men to work off a debt of $45,000. It took her a year to repay and she told the jury she could not refuse customers, even if she was menstruating.

She said she was escorted most places: to and from work and to and from shops, but that her liberty increased as she neared the end of her debt.

Another woman who was charged after the raid received a reduced jail term for co-operating with police. She was sentenced in January last year to at least 2 years' jail for slavery and slave trading charges.

Judge Michael McInerney said that while the women were not locked up, they were "effectively restrained by the insidious nature of their contract". He interpreted slavery to include a situation arising from a debt that may not necessarily be exploitative or oppressive. He found the slavery must place a person in a condition "whereby a power attaching to the right of ownership is extended over him or her".

Tang was tried on the charges last year but a jury failed to reach a verdict. Tang's lawyer said she had endured an oppressed upbringing in China before coming to Australia in 1998.
y book, Men's Rights Activists.

Go Up