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Strategy to reduce sex abuse and prostitution

By Peter Korugl PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Jan. 6, 2010) - WOMEN who abandon their families will be made to pay maintenance as part of a comprehensive strategy being developed to clamp down on child sexual abuse and prostitution involving young girls in Papua New Guinea.

This was revealed yesterday by the Family and Sexual Violence Action Committee (FSVAC) – one of the 11 sectoral committees of the Consultative Implementation and Monitoring Council (CIMC).

A spokesman for the committee, Alois Gaglu said that children from broken marriages were more prone to sexual abuse or forced into prostitution but the current law only makes the men pay maintenance to the children. Mr. Gaglu said in cases where the women abandon their families, the fathers were not given the right to obtain maintenance from their wives and as a result, the socioeconomic pressures create an environment conducive for the children to be sexually abused or forced them into prostitution to earn money to survive. He said various legislations were being looked at to develop the strategy that would ensure that this time, women were made to pay maintenance to their children.

Land inheritance was another issue that was also being considered as many children from broken marriages were deprived of rights to land.

"Many mothers return to their parents or clan with their children when their marriages break up. The customs do not allow for these children to inherit land and it has been identified as a contributing factor to child sexual abuse and child prostitution," Mr. Gaglu said.

Sexual abuse of children and child prostitution is prevalent throughout the country and many social factors drive this form of violence.

The recently launched report on child sex abuse and commercial sexual exploitation of children in PNG – compiled after an extensive study in 2006 – shows that sexual violence against children exists in PNG communities.

The report was published and launched by the Department for Community Development late last year.

"This report provides disturbing evidence that more action is required to appropriately protect and care for the children of this country," Secretary of the Department Joseph Klapat said when he introduced the report.

Mr. Gaglu said the study was undertaken four years ago and in the last three years, the problem had proven to be one of the biggest challenges facing the children of PNG.

"We do not have a solid database on these sorts of crime but from the reports we are getting, they are on the rise. The reports are coming in from provinces that have active programs that are aimed at addressing these forms of violence against the children," he said.

He said the FSVAC with other stakeholders were looking at eight pieces of legislation that deal with the rights and protection of children to develop the strategy to address the problems.

"We have engaged a consultant who is taking the lead in this work and hopefully it will be finalized soon," Mr. Gaglu said.

FSVAC is chaired by the Minister for National Planning and Rural Development and administered by the Institute of National Affairs (INA). CIMC was established by a National Executive Council (NEC) decision in 1998 and housed under the INA.

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