Australia is a destination country for women from Southeast Asia, South Korea, Taiwan, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and reportedly Eastern Europe trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Some men and women from several Pacific islands, India, the PRC, South Korea, the Philippines, and Ireland are fraudulently recruited to work temporarily in Australia, but subsequently are subjected to conditions of forced labour, including confiscation of travel documents, confinement, and threats of serious harm. Some indigenous teenage girls are subjected to forced prostitution at rural truck stops.
Czar flew to Sydney from the Philippines on the promise of a successful boxing career. However, upon arrival Czar was forced to hand over his passport and was told he would be working as a cleaner in the mornings and evenings. Czar's work as a cleaner went unpaid and when he did box, his earnings were deducted for visa and travel expenses. Eventually Czar and the other boxers being exploited went to the police who helped them escape.
I’ve been boxing since I was 15. My dad died when I was young and my mum worked as a cleaner in the city, so we all had to help out putting food on the table. My mum always worried I’d get hurt, but I knew boxing paid well, and I loved it.
I finished high school and decided to go pro. Soon, people started saying I was good enough to box in Australia. Then I met a Filipino man who said I could make A$200 (£122) a round in Australia. He gave me all the promises: I could support my family; I’d get an extendable visa; the money would be great. That sounded good, because my son had just turned two.
I flew to Sydney with four other boxers. The first day there was a huge celebration for us with the man’s family, his son’s family and his daughter’s family.
Then, out of nowhere, they made us hand over our passports and introduced us to our “duties”. I was told I was going to be the dishwasher and the others cleaners. We were going to box in the day and clean up after the three families in the morning and evening. They showed us our “room”. It was the garage. There were three bunk beds and no heating, and it was the start of winter.
I wondered what was going on, but I couldn’t speak English too well and knew nothing about Australia. I had no money and no passport. We boxed and worked, but didn’t get paid, so I couldn’t send any money home. My partner ended up having to get a job and we broke up as a result. Eventually, after six months, I got my first fight. I was paid A$3,000, but he deducted all my expenses, visa and plane tickets, and I was left with $100.
Finally, we decided to go to the police. We were very lucky that they helped us out. Now I live in Melbourne, and I make good money to send home. My son is turning nine soon, and I want to bring him here. Australia gave me another chance in life, and I’m grateful for that.
As told to Carla Kweifio-Okai for the Guardian