SEXUAL ABUSE OF CHILDREN ON THE RISE IN SOLOMONS

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, December 17) – Solomon Islands is one of five pacific island countries where child sexual abuse has increased due to armed conflict.

According to a regional report on Child Sexual Abuse and Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in the Pacific, many girls in Solomon Islands were sexually assaulted by militants during the ethnic crisis.

"Virtually any girl or woman in the areas affected by the tensions was vulnerable to sexual coercion by militants," the report said.

This was largely due to the involvement of some members of the then Royal Solomon Islands Police (RSIP) now known as the Solomon Islands Police Force (SIPF) in the criminal activities during the tensions which undermined public confidence in the SIPF, the report stated.

The report, which was conducted in Solomon Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, PNG and Vanuatu, was launched in Honiara yesterday

It highlighted that in Solomon Islands child sexual abuse began at a very young age this was proven from reports of sexually transmitted infections in children as young as between 1 and 3 years old.

"...a clear indicator of the existence of child sexual abuse in the country," the report said.

Even child prostitution is said to be evident in Solomon Islands, the report said.

This was where local young male kids are being lured by sailors with money between $2-$5 and food to have sex with them through anal penetration.

"This happened at the main wharf previously known as the Guadalcanal Province area," a young boy told the report.

It further noted that child sex tourism involved young girls who visited hotels, night clubs, resorts and boats to have sex in exchange for money.

The report also pointed out child pornography where a number of local children involved in were reported to the research team in Honiara.

Child marriage in exchange for money were also highlighted in the report where foreign timber workers in SI are marrying girls as young as 12 in exchange for money or gifts for a girl was justified by the tradition of bride price.

UNICEF Pacific project officer Solomon Islands Katherine Gilbert said the report is a culmination of research collected by studies in Solomon Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu - conducted and written between October 2004 and June 2005.At the opening address she highlighted that child sexual abuse and exploitation are recognised international as the most severe of human rights violations and the worst forms of child abuse and exploitation.

An Inter-Agency Group made up of UNICEF, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT International) conducted the country studies.

Last night’s launching includes presentations, panel discussions by Government officials, NGOs and human rights group.

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