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Thai Woman Wins Landmark Compensation in Australian Sex-Trafficking Case

An Australian tribunal has awarded compensation to a Thai woman who was forced to work as a prostitute in Sydney when she was 13. It is the first time a victim of sex trafficking has received damages from the tribunal. Phil Mercer reports from Sydney.

Jetsadophorn Chaladone was brought to Australia with her father's permission in 1995 and had hoped to be employed as a nanny.

Instead she was put to work in a brothel by a gang of traffickers and was told she had to pay off a $28,000 debt.

Australian immigration officials raided the brothel just over a week later. By then, Jetsadophorn had been forced to have sex with dozens of men.

The New South Wales Victims Compensation Tribunal has recognized the depression and post-traumatic stress she suffered as a result. The tribunal has ordered that Jetsadophorn be paid compensation from a government fund for crime victims. The amount has not been disclosed.

She now lives in northern Thailand and has said the money will help pay for her son's education.

Her story was told in the documentary "Trafficked" by film maker Luigi Acquisto.

He told journalists the tribunal's decision is an important victory for this young victim of Australia's sex trade.

"She felt that she'd done something wrong, she felt ashamed, and she carried that with her for a long time, even though she was only 13 at the time when she was trafficked," he said. "And now she realizes, because of the affirmation by I guess Australia, that she was in fact a victim, that she didn't do anything wrong, and that justice, to some extent, has been done."

Australia introduced laws against sex trafficking and slavery in 1999.

The government in Canberra has signed anti-trafficking agreements with Cambodia, Burma, Laos and Thailand to improve international cooperation. Trafficking in humans for the sex trade or forced labor is a significant problem in those countries.