YOUTH CONFERENCE TOLD OF SOLOMONS GANG RAPES

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (September 5, 2002 - The Fiji Times/PINA Nius Online)---Graphic descriptions of "long line," or gang rape, in the Solomon Islands have been unveiled at the Pacific Youth Conference on HIV/AIDS, the news agency AFP reported.

About half of the people surveyed said they had seen or participated in "long-line" rape, University of Melbourne doctoral candidate Holly Buchanan-Aruwafu told the conference in Nadi, AFP said.

"Long line" is a Pidgin term for gang rape, she said.

The youth conference is sponsored by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

Buchanan-Aruwafu, who declined to release full details of the survey, is married to a Solomon Islander.

She said, "It is still so unstable there (following years of Guadalcanal-Malaita ethnic conflict) and I really would prefer that the statistics on rape remain confidential, as we had an agreement with the Health ministry there."

Buchanan-Aruwafu told AFP that the country's sexual behavior was still being "culturally controlled through violence and compensation."

Compensation occurred when a group of men who have raped a girl or woman offer traditional red shell money, goods or cash to the victim's family, she said.

"Situational analysis of sexually-transmitted infections and HIV indicated that ‘long line rape’ was occurring in both rural and urban settings," she told AFP.

"Sexual violence is the use of sex as a weapon of power over people and to inflict pain and humiliation ... It is specifically gendered, reflects sexual cultural and power differences between men and women."

She said of the 300 people surveyed, the majority had "heard of others who had been raped." Just under half had "seen a ‘long line’ rape happening," and slightly more than half (including females) "had participated in ‘long line’ rape."

"In some cases, when young women refuse sex with men, they are marked and then, under the influence of alcohol, the men return and rape them," she said.

"We need to educate young people on their rights, address cultural issues and educate police and health workers."

For additional reports from the Fiji Times, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Fiji Times.

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

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