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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Fiji Court To Hear First Domestic Sex Trafficking Case
Women’s center coordinator says trafficking ‘hidden’ in Fiji

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Feb. 20, 2013) – A court in Suva is hearing what is believed to be the first case of domestic trafficking for prostitution in Fiji.

The case involves two teenage girls, aged 16 and 17, and a 20 year old woman.

One man has been charged with nine counts of trafficking children and prostitution, and another man charged with three counts of domestic trafficking and prostitution.

Fiji Women's Crisis Centre coordinator, Shamima Ali, told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat that concerns over domestic human trafficking in Fiji have been growing.

"It has been there for quite a while, you know, girls being taken from one town to another, from one area to another for the purposes of exploitation... and particularly for prostitution," she said.

"But it's very hidden, people are very quiet about it, you hardly hear about it, but it's been going on for a long time."

Ms. Ali says she is glad the issue is being brought into the spotlight because of the case.

"The authorities have, particularly the police, have become very vigilant about issues of sexual assault and prostitution of young people and so on so that's a good thing," she said.

"There's a lot more talk now in the country about sexual assault and so on. It shows that the more people talk about it, the more we bring these things out in the open, the greater the chances that we can curb it.

Ms. Ali says some families sell their daughters into prostitution out of poverty and "desperation", but others just do it because they are "lazy" and don't want to work.

"In some families it is easy money and there are some useless men around staying at home who do not go out and work."

[PIR editor's note: Fiji's Immigration Department has called on the public in remote areas of the country to be on the lookout for yachts, adding that some vessels are believed to be involved in human trafficking.]

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