‘Backpackers in Australia facing sex demands’

Sydney, July 31 (IANS) Some backpacking travellers to Australia are being coerced to perform sexual acts for employers who must sign documents allowing them to extend their visas.

Queensland’s official anti-discrimination commissioner Kevin Cocks said on Friday that mainly farm employers were making the demands on fruit and vegetable picking tourists who often live on their farms, reported Xinhua news agency.

Backpackers who come to Australia on a one-year working holiday visa are required to undertake at least three months of work in regional or rural Australia to qualify for a second year.

But Cocks told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that some employers are withholding signing off on visa applications in order to manipulate travellers for sexual gratification.

“Young women are asked for sexual favours to get their visa signed off,” he said.

“We’ve had a number of direct or indirect issues raised with us by the community members, police and other government agencies. At least a dozen over the past 18 months, and that is just in the area that we’ve worked in (the Lockyer Valley in southeast Queensland).”

“What’s been indirectly reported to us is more serious criminal sexual exploitation,” he added.

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