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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 3 Hansard (13 March) . . Page.. 486..


DR FOSKEY (continuing):

husband lived here for 20 years. She married an Australian, her children still live here in Sydney and now there are real fears for her life and certainly for her health. Again I have written to the minister for foreign affairs asking him to do whatever he can to ensure that there are at least monitors making sure that the Vienna convention is upheld in her imprisonment, and also to work to persuade the African government, who are probably the only ones really with any power to influence that regime, to intervene.

Last night I was involved in an event with yet another amazing woman activist, Rohini Weerasinghe, a Sri Lankan woman who has been active in the women's movement there since 1979. She is part of an organisation called Kantha Shakthi, which means women's friend, which is funded through the International Women's Development Agency to work with the victims of the tsunami to help them to develop skills so they can continue to earn money. These are people whose livelihoods were disrupted by the tsunami. Rohini is one of those women that have been working solidly with women at the grassroots level on empowerment issues and to try and get changes in the rape law. She has been involved in the introduction of domestic violence law and she has also been involved in trying to reduce the conflict between the Tamil and the Sri Lankan ethnic groups. I am very proud to be a supporter of IWDA, which works with her.

Finally, on Saturday there was an event within the Assembly, in the reception room, where a number of Sudanese women came together from all over Australia. There again we met some amazing women who spoke out about their lives before they came here. Most of them are widows and most lost their husbands and other family members in the conflict in Sudan. They are incredibly grateful to Australia for giving them sanctuary and they are trying to work and develop lives. They are looking for money so they can learn to drive. It seems such a simple, basic thing to ask for, but to those women it means that they can assist their children in getting an education. They see their children's education as their key to their future lives. And, of course, they are very concerned about what is happening in Sudan.

That is only a tiny little snapshot of about a week for the world's women, for some of them in some of the countries with conflict—and that is not even to mention Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma, who is still in detention, and the many women in so many countries who are subject to domestic violence and unfair laws and who lack their human rights.

People trafficking

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (4.51): People trafficking is the fastest growing illegal trade across the world. It is a $7 billion market that now rivals the arms and the drug trade. Every minute of every day, men, women and children are being transported, used or sold against their wills. These are the victims of trafficking. As we sit here in this Assembly now, somewhere in the world someone is being trafficked. People are being herded across borders and continents, sometimes in groups but often alone. They live in terror. Others watch their every move; they treat them like cattle. These are not statistics. These are people. They are someone's mother, someone's child. They are dreaming of freedom.


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