The Myth of the ‘Ideal Offender’: Challenging persistent human trafficking stereotypes through emerging Australian cases


  • Kyla Raby
  • Dr Nerida Chazal



offender stereotypes, ideal offender, trafficking narratives, coercive control


Human trafficking and slavery offences are often constructed through prominent stereotypes of the ideal victim and the ideal offender. This article examines four common offender stereotypes created by representations of trafficking seen in the media, popular culture, government reports, and awareness campaigns, and challenges these stereotypes by comparing them with international and Australian research and statistics. This comparison demonstrates that the ideal trafficking offender is a myth that must be broken. To support this argument, the article explores two emerging Australian cases involving sexual exploitation and allegations of slavery and servitude that significantly depart from stereotypical representations of trafficking. This shows the limitations of offender stereotypes in explaining trafficking offences and demonstrates the need for greater emphasis on the role of coercive control in trafficking offences, the impact of trust and changing relationships, and the interrelationship of trafficking with domestic violence.


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Author Biographies

Kyla Raby

Kyla Raby is an anti-trafficking practitioner with the Australian Red Cross where she manages a support service for survivors of human trafficking. She is also a PhD candidate at the University of South Australia (UniSA) researching the role of the consumer in legislative efforts to eradicate modern slavery in supply chains. In addition, Kyla is an aid worker with the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and a sessional online academic with UniSA and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.

Dr Nerida Chazal

Dr Nerida Chazal is a Lecturer in Criminology and Sociology at the University of South Australia. Her research specialities include gender violence, human trafficking, forced marriage, and international criminal justice. She has conducted research on the International Criminal Court and is currently undertaking research for the Australian Red Cross looking at victim support for modern slavery crimes.




How to Cite

Raby, K., & Chazal, N. (2022). The Myth of the ‘Ideal Offender’: Challenging persistent human trafficking stereotypes through emerging Australian cases. Anti-Trafficking Review, (18), 13–32.