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In Australia, bid to help trafficking victims

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"The demographic profile includes men, women, and children from all over the world working in a whole variety of industries," she continues. "The youngest I ever worked with was 3, and the oldest person was 72."

Escaping from such a ruthless world is not easy. Sex workers are often thrown penniless into the street when their debts are cleared, while other exploited workers have to summon immense courage to seek help from nongovernmental organizations or the police.

The fortunate ones end up in the supportive hands of charities like the Salvation Army. The safe house – which differs from other ad hoc efforts to house victims – comprises two five-bedroom apartments with common living areas and a kitchen. Residents have their own rooms.

Here, in this complex, reconstructing damaged lives is a painstaking task.

"We're looking for successful outcomes in ... safe, affordable housing, stability in their mental health, reconnecting with family, and being able to manage daily living," Ms. Stangar explains, adding that they want to ensure that the women do not become ensnared in trafficking again.

Legal problems are another issue. Many victims of trafficking have either overstayed their visas or have violated tourist permits. The Salvation Army works with lawyers to help them secure permanent residency, Stangar says.

"Without having a stable legal situation, it's very hard for us to help the clients achieve stability in all those other areas, and legal issues are a big worry for lots of people," she says.

For the past decade, Stangar has worked as an advocate for survivors of human trafficking and slavery in the United States and Australia. She cofounded the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking in Los Angeles, which opened the first US refuge for victims in 2003. She then relocated to Sydney, "only to find that the work needs to be done all over again."

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