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By Isaac Nicholas and Peter Korugl

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (August 30, 2000 - The National/PINA Nius Online)---The Papua New Guinea sex industry is flourishing through a "sex on credit" plan, said Morobe Governor Luther Wenge at a conference in Lae aimed at stopping the spread of sexually transmitted diseases in the country.

Governor Wenge said he was aware of the plan in which prostitutes provided sex for money to workers in their offices.

He said the women who engage in this "immoral activity" do not get paid immediately, but rather bill the man and pick up their payment later on pay days.

"Whether we legalize prostitution or not, the illegal sex industry is growing. Prostitution is on an alarming increase in Papua New Guinea and something must be done quickly," Governor Wenge, a committed Christian, said during the opening of the weeklong conference.

The workshop is being attended by members of the provincial AIDS committees and the National AIDS Council.

He said over the years he had watched prostitution grow in Port Moresby, Lae, and Mount Hagen where men and women were selling their bodies for money.

Mr. Wenge said educational campaigns aimed at stopping the spread of sexually transmitted diseases are not working because people are reluctant to discuss the issues of sex, which is considered a taboo subject in the country.

He said this scenario could lead to a human catastrophe, similar to the situation in some African countries.

The governor said laws relating to prostitution are too slack and should be amended to give more power to police to arrest and prosecute those involved.

He also said laws should be amended to force all persons involved in the sex business to go for regular medical checks.

Moresby South MP Lady Carol Kidu told Parliament yesterday that the drive to outlaw illegal markets are forcing women into prostitution.

She said the NCDC is going ahead with its plan to crackdown on the illegal vending problem without involving people who make the appropriate policies.

"Women are forced to go into prostitution for a few kina to support their families," said Lady Kidu.

She said from the time the NCDC began its anti-litter drive in the city, she had received at least five petitions from women in her Moresby South electorate.

Lady Kidu said one of the petitions was from a church pastor representing women who said that "women are forced to sell their bodies at night."

"They are forced to go into prostitution for a few kina they missed out from the selling of their betelnut to support their families."

She said she came up with alternate policies from the women vendors and made a submission to the then former city administration under Philip Taku, but because of political affiliations, the alternatives were not considered.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

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