VANUATU PROSTITUTION REPORT CATCHES PUBLIC ATTENTION

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PORT VILA, Vanuatu (August 5, 2001 - Port Vila Presse/PINA Nius Online)---Hundreds of kava drinkers in Port Vila stayed home recently to watch a Television Blong Vanuatu documentary on Vanuatu's growing prostitution problem.

The program, produced and presented by Radio Vanuatu's Bruno Lengkone and his team, showed the current scope of prostitution, which a decade ago was unheard of in Vanuatu.

The hour-and-a-half-long program in Bislama, entitled "Laef Blong Mi," publicly confirmed that prostitution is truly in the country on a large scale.

It revealed that there were different categories of prostitutes, including desperate teenagers in school, struggling to pay fees.

The program publicly confirmed too that important people in government and other sectors are involved. Some of those positions of authority named by women in the program are ministers in government, members of parliament and pastors.

The high cost of living, low wages, lack of adequate religious and counseling support, and urban drift, which contributes to increased unemployment, were highlighted as some of the reasons for the problem.

Prime Minister Edward Natapei, who appeared in the program, warned against leaders engaging in such immoral behavior and abusing the poor. He added that he would take action against any leader in the government proved to be involved.

Mr. Natapei called on the people to involve their families to help resolve the problem - for everyone to start teaching their children how to face life's challenges.

Similar appeals were made by the spokesman for the Malvatumauri National Council of Chiefs, Sandy Ishmael, and the chairman of the Vanuatu Christian Council, Bishop Michel Visi.

Both condemned the rise in prostitution and called on responsible leaders to do something about the matter.

A comment by a regular traveler to Vanuatu shows how far Vanuatu has changed. This man said that in all his travels to Vanuatu, beginning in pre-independence days, his visit two weeks ago was the first time he had been solicited for sex on the streets of Port Vila.

For additional reports from the Port Vila Presse, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers: Port Vila (Vanuatu) Presse.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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