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By Rosemary Baleiverata

SUVA, Fiji Islands (October 29, 1999 – Fiji Times)---Child prostitution is happening in urban centers, Adi Vulase of Safetynet Care Fiji, a non-profit organization that looks into the welfare of homeless children, said yesterday.

"I know of some children who have come to see us for condoms and when I ask them they say they are using them because they go out with men who come to pick them up. They call condoms `socks','' she said.

Safetynet put up a tent along Nubukalou Creek for homeless children to use for income-generating activities.

"This space was given to us by the Fiji National Provident Fund and we are fortunate they have come out in support of our request,'' Adi Vulase said.

"We asked the Suva City Council some time back, but they refused to help us.''

She said children were exploited by men who used them as sex objects.

One of the street children under the care of Safetynet said he knew of some friends who were involved in the trade.

"One day they asked me if I wanted to go with them on a cruise with this taxi driver but I refused,'' said the boy, who wanted to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation from clients.

"The Indian boys are the ones who do it because they are vulnerable. The Fijian boys are more strong physically and they are able to fend better for themselves,'' said Adi Vulase.

She is aware that beggars sell their children to men.

"A woman (under our care) who had a daughter aged nine was approached by a European man to take the child for sex. When the mother offered herself, he refused, opting for the child, and I know they were paid a large sum of money to go with the little girl,'' she said.


EDITORIAL COMMENT Fiji Times October 29, 1999


There is no excuse for parents who sell their children for sex.

It is disturbing to note that a child sex trade exists on our streets.

But it is even more disturbing that parents would take money in exchange for sexual favors given by their children.

How sick has our society become?

Street children have become a part of our everyday life.

They shine shoes, sell food or beg openly for money

At night they sleep in vacant car parks, on church verandahs, in cartons or culverts.

Today this newspaper reports that a childcare group has uncovered a sex trade in Suva and other municipalities.

Safetynet says street children are bullied by adults to perform sexual favors.

In some instances the children go with the adults to make money and feed themselves.

At times their parents send them out in order to bring much needed revenue for the family.

Safetynet spokeswoman Adi Vulase revealed that a nine-year-old girl was forced to have sex with a European man so her family could make money.

This despite her mother offering herself to the man.

Today this newspaper also reports cases in which a disabled 14-year-old was sodomized and a mentally retarded 12-year-old was raped.

These reports show just how sick our society has become.

It is easy to blame the crime on poverty, liquor, drugs or the influence of movies.

The difficulty is in finding a solution to what has obviously become an area of concern for families around the country.

Parents will begin to wonder how safe their children are on the way to or from school.

All strangers will become suspicious as guardians strive to protect their children from the unwelcome advances of sex fiends.

The Government has to place a greater emphasis on the removal of beggars and children from the streets.

This is no easy task but there are institutions where they can be looked after in relative safety.

At the same time there is a need to clamp down on child sex offenders.

They can receive no mercy from the courts.

Once convicted such people must be put behind bars for a very long time.

For additional reports from The Fiji Daily Post, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Other News Resources/Fiji Live.

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