WOMEN FEAR RAPE IN LAWLESS RUSSELL ISLANDS

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Drunkenness, assault on rise amidst growing unemployment

By Moffat Mamu

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Oct. 11, 2008) – Widespread lawlessness at Yandina in the Russell Islands is increasing, a woman leader from the area claimed.

And Catherine Keni accused the police there of not doing their job to address the problem.

[PIR editor’s note: The Russell Islands are located northwest of Guadalcanal and south of Isabel in the Solomon Islands. Some experts on the region blame the shortage of school facilities and scarcity of jobs on the increasing discontent of Solomons youth.]

Ms Keni, who arrived in Honiara on Tuesday, told the Solomon Star the situation is getting out of hand.

"There were incidents of attempted rape, people going around drunk, and armed men threatening women and children," Ms Keni said. "Most of them were unemployed people who have nothing to do there. They are the ones who seem to overtake the place. This is causing fear amongst the people there," she said.

Yandina is where the headquarters of the troubled Russell Islands Plantation Estates Limited (RIPEL) was located.

The company closed its operations in copra and cocoa following an industrial dispute with workers. Ms Keni said few weeks ago, drunkards chased her daughter, but she was lucky to escape unharmed.

And just last week, she said an attempted rape case occurred near the water pump area. She said all these were reported to the police there but they failed to take action.

Ms Keni said the production and consumption of local homebrew, kwaso, are now out of control. "We women, our girls and our children are no longer feeling safe in our community," she said.

She said stealing is also increasing.

She claimed police there work from 8am to 4pm and there were no officers manning the station at night. Central Province Police Commander Peter Tiro said he was not aware of the complaints.

But he revealed they are investigating some of their officers stationed at Yandina for non-performance. He said it’s likely lawlessness may increases there.

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