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PORT VILA, Vanuatu (June 13, 1998 - PACNEWS/Ioane)---The Vanuatu government needs to urgently put in place laws to combat pedophilia if it wants to avoid problems that now face some Pacific Island countries.

The Director of Vanuatu's Women's Center, Merilyn Tahi, says although Vanuatu has not officially recorded any pedophilia yet, rumors of child abuse, sexual abuse, and commercial prostitution in the country is rife.

Tahi says there is a need to conduct a survey of child prostitution and commercial sexual exploitation in Vanuatu in order to paint a picture of the seriousness of the issue. There needs to be a more consolidated effort between the government and non-government institutions, she says, to prevent child abuse and commercial prostitution in the country.

Tahi says a consolidated effort would ensure that sex offenders are brought to justice.

Tahi was speaking on her return from the first regional conference on Preventing the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Pacific Children, which was held in Suva, Fiji last week.

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