Sex Work Reportedly On The Rise In Urban PNG

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More people turning to sex to supplement incomes

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Oct. 4, 2012) – The number of sex workers in Papua New Guinea’s major cities and towns is increasing at an alarming rate because women and men are finding it very difficult to fend for themselves.

Furthermore, because organized brothels are rare in PNG compared with other countries, the "sex trade" and "sex for sale" for a growing number of people to supplement their income has become a necessity rather than an option.

Persons associated with a non-government organization which has been operating for two and half years in Port Moresby, supported by some refutable agencies, spoke out on the issue.

They told the Post-Courier in an interview that they have a report which they will finalize and present to the authorities.

The report will provide details of the sex trade and hopefully make the government and all stakeholders aware of the situation so they can try to do something about it.

The director of the organization, who hesitantly responded to our questions, said they were still into their second phase of the report, specifically assisting the sex groups on awareness on HIV/ AIDS and venereal diseases.

But their initial first phase report provide details of existing groups in Port Moresby, Lae, Mount Hagen and East New Britain that assist sex workers and they were helping those they have identified who are not affiliated with any of the existing groups.

In Port Moresby, there are 14 locations where sex workers do business, exchanging sex for money, food, school fees or other "gifts" from time to time and to supplement their income for particular needs.

The Lae report details four locations, they have one in Mount Hagen and one in East New Britain.

Port Moresby has three categories of sex workers – "first class, second class and lower class" – and both women and men are involved, and that includes school children, young girls and boys.

In the first class category, high profile working class men and women "sell themselves" for extra money and those that are "living beyond their means".

The second class are mostly public servants and those that are working in public offices but struggling to maintain their families.

The lower class are those that work in night clubs, babysitting and in settlements who have no other means of earning a living and supporting themselves.

"It sounds bad but we have to face it because that’s how these women and some men choose to live. They are forced into it because many times they say living standard is high in Port Moresby," an official told the Post-Courier.

"The demand from families is also alarming and many people cannot afford the rise in prices for goods and services in Port Moresby and the centres that we have worked in.

"We issue about 20,000 condoms in three months or a quarter and this is not to encourage them.

We have to try other ways to see if we can help eradicate such practices but it will be here for a long time.

"Sex work is the main or only source of income for these people.

A lot of these women and men that we assist identify school children, young girls and boys who are lured into such practices.

"A few years ago there was little understanding of sex worker rights but now they know and that is also one reason for the increase.

"Our operation is two-fold: awareness and data base collection, but a final report will be completed and presented to the authorities, including our organization."

A base line survey data carried out in Port Moresby reveals some interesting findings:

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