A woman has told the BBC how she was caught up in the sex tourism industry, which has been described as a ‘monstrous crime’.
In an exclusive interview, Rachel Hildebrand, who works in the US and has worked in Australia, said that in the past few years she has been approached by people asking for money, including from US tourists.
‘They wanted me to take their photo and sell it on the internet,’ she said.
‘I had to make sure I was not photographed.
I had to be very careful.’
Hildebrands journey to the US began in December 2015 when she met an American woman who had arrived in Australia from New Zealand.
‘She told me she was an American, but she had travelled to Australia before and had been a sex worker for years,’ Hildebringt told the broadcaster.
‘It was like a dream come true.
She said she wanted to meet me in person.’
Hilderbrand said she felt a lot of pressure and anxiety when she was first visiting.
‘When you first come to Australia you are greeted by a very beautiful, very friendly Australian woman,’ she recalled.
‘But after a few days you start to feel like this is going to be a very, very difficult trip.’
But the journey to America didn’t go quite as she had hoped.
‘The first time I went to the airport in Arizona, I didn’t know what to expect.
I just sat on the side of the plane and waited,’ she told the ABC.
‘In the United States you are supposed to wear a mask, so it was very cold.
I was sweating profusely, I had the flu and I was cold.
‘After the flight I was told to be prepared for the cold, but I wasn’t prepared for what I saw when I arrived in the United Kingdom.’
Hildabringt said she went through the airport with a mask and was told she would be allowed to enter the country but she was not allowed to wear it.
‘That was the last straw,’ she admitted.
‘We were told that I had no right to enter Australia and we would have to leave.
‘Then they gave me a couple of fake IDs and asked me to put them in my luggage and leave the country.’
HILDERBAND WAS ABLE TO SEE A NEW WORLD Hildabrand said her trip was more than just a tourist attraction.
‘Australia is a country that has a long history of people coming here for the first time, particularly people from Africa,’ she added.
‘This woman was not just a stranger to Australia, she was also a stranger who was completely unaware of the laws that govern this country.’
Australia has a history of protecting people from slavery and the slave trade, and there are still people who are willing to sacrifice themselves to survive in order to escape those things.
‘People who have experienced slavery, forced labour or other forms of human trafficking should be protected from that sort of exploitation.
‘My experiences have shown me that even if you are not aware of these things, you are still in danger.’
Hildabbringts story came to the attention of Australian immigration authorities when she arrived in Sydney in early 2016.
‘A lot of people were concerned about my arrival in Australia and I didn�t know what the hell I was doing, she said, before the authorities realised what had happened.
‘So I went and told the Australian Embassy in Sydney, who told me they had my passport and that I was an Australian citizen and that there was no way I could enter Australia without a visa.’
HOLDING ON Hildabear has a message for Australians.
‘If you are thinking of going to the United State and are thinking about meeting someone, do not let them know you are an Australian,’ she wrote in a Facebook post.
‘Don�t take their word for it.
I know you don�t want to go to America, but this is what you are really going to experience.
‘Do not give in to the urge to escape.’
HILDABLEBERG AND HER SON ‘I WAS IN DANGER’ In an interview with the ABC, Rachel said she and her son had been looking for work overseas for a while.
But they were unable to find work and her family struggled to make ends meet.
‘Our family had been living on food stamps, on public assistance and our rent was paid by the Australian government, which had been taking money out of our paycheque for their welfare system,’ she recounted.
‘On top of that, we had to pay for our own clothes to go overseas to make up for the lack of clothes that we had been wearing. ‘You don�tt know what kind of people these people are.
‘Sometimes you will see them walking around looking for money or you will get a phone call saying, ‘We need you to come back and help us out’.’
That was when I started to think that there could be something wrong with me, that I am a fraud. ‘