Rungnapha Kanbut: Jailed for slavery, forcing women into sex work

Rungnapha Kanbut: Jailed for slavery, forcing women into sex work

A woman who forced two Thai nationals into sex slavery in Sydney, subjecting them to severe mistreatment and prison-like conditions, has been jailed.

Rungnapha Kanbut, 57, was found guilty by a jury in May of two counts each of possessing a slave, exercising powers of ownership over a slave and dealing with the proceeds of crime greater than $10,000.

Her NSW District Court trial heard she told two Thai women when they arrived to live with her in Australia, in 2004 and 2005 respectively, they each had a $45,000 debt to pay off and would do so through their sex work.

Both victims told the jury Kanbut took their passports and they weren’t returned until they’d paid off the sum of money.

A lengthy Australian Federal Police investigation culminated in the woman’s arrest in 2017 when she returned to the country from abroad.

During her trial, a court heard the two women were kept “effectively in a prison without bars” by Kanbut, who is a Thai National and Australian resident.

One of her victims, a 37-year-old woman who can’t be named for legal reasons, detailed the horrific abuses she endured.

She had been forced by “Rung” to place a sea sponge in her vagina during her period so that she could keep working.

“I will have to live with the scar of this experience for the rest of my life,” she said in her victim impact statement. “Even if I try to forget about it, it is still me.

She and the other woman were made to hand over all money. There were often forced to see up to 10 ‘clients’ a day.

Today, Kanbut was sentenced in Parramatta District Court to eight years in jail. She will be eligible for parole in 2024.


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