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By Moffat Mamu

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Jan. 19) – Girls as young as 13-years-old are reportedly part of the growing sex trade in foreign vessels that stop over in Solomon Islands.

Reliable sources close to Solomon Star disclosed that more and more girls have drifted into the trade for money from the foreign fishermen who are mostly Asians working in the fishing boats.

These fishing vessels usually spend weeks fishing in the open sea and each month they berth outside the harbor to unload their catch into their mother boats which normally awaits the fishing vessels in Honiara.

Often it took them several weeks to off load their catch and restock their food supplies and it is during this process that our local girls visited the vessels for money.

According to a source, our local girls earned their money by having sex with the foreigners.

It was noted that these girls pocketed several hundreds of dollars in foreign cash and, when they exchange that, they usually grab several thousands of dollars in local currency.

"It is big money for them," the source said.

When asked whether some students are involved, the source never "down-played" that category of girls.

However, he confirmed that most of the girls are school dropouts, while others are unemployed girls and those who have no proper families and home due to social and family breakups.

It is understood that several mother boats are still berthing off the Point Cruz in Honiara at the moment.

The source said these girls are aided by several locals who provide transport services to the vessels.

He said transportation is often done around Point Cruz area in the early hours of the morning.

He said some girls usually spend days in the boats and only leave when the fishing vessels are about to depart.

"This is not the first time for such things to happen because, while others go for money, others are being lured just to get a good fish."

However, the man attributed this problem to the economic situation faced by the country.

"It cannot be controlled due to the economic situation faced by the country," he said.

The National Council of Women [NCW] yesterday stated that the issue is a great concern for them because it affects a lot of young girls and even some women.

Speaking to Solomon Star yesterday the National Council of Women’s secretary general Ella Kauhue said a working committee involving 16 stakeholders has been formed to look at the issue.

The committee was formed last year when the issue was raised.

Ms. Kauhue said the meeting pulled together representatives from the Ports Authority, Education, Customs, Fishing Village, Tradeco, a few NGOs, and other fishing organizations to try and work together to address the issue.

"It is a matter of concern and a great big issue to deal with and NCW is not going to leave that issue out," Ms. Kauhue said.

At the moment the National Council of Women is busy with the women candidates ready to contest the upcoming election.

However, the general secretary said the issue "is not going down the drain but more work needs to be done and we will push for strategic measures to control such practices in the country".

January 20, 2006

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