Sex slaves at Sydney brothel, court told

2:51pm February 4, 2013

A woman accused of running a Sydney brothel told the women she held in alleged "sexual servitude" they had to perform sex acts to pay off the debts they incurred in coming to Australia, a court has heard.

Chee Mei Wong, 37, has pleaded not guilty to one count of sexual servitude and six counts of breaching visas, including exploiting workers.

At the opening day of her trial in the NSW District Court in Sydney on Monday, it was alleged Ms Wong, also known as "Yoko", ran the Diamonds brothel in Willoughby in Sydney's north between August 2008 and 2010.

She allegedly employed six women of Indian background, who were recruited in Malaysia and sent to Australia on student visas.

Crown prosecutor Carolyn Davenport SC said the women spoke little to no English and were told they would have to work until they paid off the cost of their airfare, visa and course fees - amounting to a debt of around $5000.

"They were also told upon arrival what services they must perform at the brothel," Ms Davenport said.

When some of them refused, they were told they must.

"They were told that they were not allowed to leave the brothel until they had paid off their debt."

While student visa regulations stipulated the women could only work 20 hours per week, it is alleged they were working seven days a week, with Saturday and Sunday shifts often running from midday until 4 or 5am.

Despite the women having paid off their debt after a "short period of time" it is alleged Ms Wong threatened she would have their visas revoked if they left.

But Ms Wong's barrister Bruce Quinn said she was a "woman of good character" who only worked at the brothel as a casual receptionist.

He said the matter was simply an "industrial dispute" and a "sham" created so the women could stay in Australia".

"There was no sexual servitude and there was no working beyond 20 hours", he told the jury.

The trial before Judge Deborah Sweeney continues.

© AAP 2014
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