Prostitution court case spotlights domestic trafficking in Fiji | Pacific Beat

Prostitution court case spotlights domestic trafficking in Fiji

Prostitution court case spotlights domestic trafficking in Fiji

Updated 20 February 2013, 11:00 AEDT

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

Shamima Ali, from the Fiji Women's Crisis Centre, says concerns over domestic human trafficking have been growing.

Presenter: Richard Ewart

Speaker: Shamima Ali, Fiji Women's Crisis Centre


ALI: We have been concerned about this issue for a long time, because what is reaching us from the ground, we do a lot of work in the community and people often feel that if they know something like this they should let us know. But it has been there for awhile, it has been there for quite awhile. Girls being taken from one town to another, from one area to another for the purposes of exploitation and so on and particularly for prostitution. But it's very hidden, people are very quite about it. You hardly hear about it. But this has been going on for a long time.
EWART: So you are satisfied are you, based on the information that you have, this particular case that is before courts, whether it's proved or not. It's not an isolated case?
ALI: No, no, not at all, not at all.
EWART: So in terms of dealing with the problem, is the first part of dealing with the problem actually the acknowledgment which at the moment doesn't appear to be there, that people are not conceding that this sort of thing is going on, as you said, it seems to be very much undercover?
ALI; Yes. I think the fact that this case has been brought to light allegedly. We're really glad that perhaps now whether it is true or not. The courts will prove that. But the fact that people will now become aware that this kind of thing is going on and particularly the authorities. I must say in recent months, 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.
EWART: So generally, would you say that if more cases are being reported, it's not necessarily in the wider context a bad thing, because what it means is that people are beginning to wake up to the problem, acknowledge the problem, and tell people about it?
ALI: Yes, definitely. All this has come to the fore because of the alleged human trafficking of girls out of Fiji and there's a lot more talk now in the country about sexual assault and so on. So I think people are a lot more vigilant and a lot more aware and people are telling us. Even parents, are sort of prostituting their girls and so on from their own homes and the girls are being taken from here and there. So and neighbours are talking about it or community workers who are in the know. So these are good things. I mean at least it shows 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.
EWART: And you talk there about families, as it were, selling their daughters into prostitution. Are they doing that as an act of desperation or are they doing it because it's easy money?
ALI: Well, definitely, there is the poverty element. We have increasing rates of poverty in the country and for some families it is an act of desperation, but again, one doesn't do that. But we also find in some families, it is easy money and there are some useless men around, staying at home, who do not go out and work. And this has been an ongoing problem, this is not recent and use the women in their house to so that they can have access to car buying to cigarettes, to just have a life of leisure and to pay the bills, so that they get away from their responsibilities.

Contact the studio

Got something to say about what you're hearing on the radio right now?

Send your texts to +61 427 72 72 72

Add the hashtag #raonair to add your tweets to the conversation.

Email us your thoughts on an issue. Messages may be used on air.