By EVAH BANIGE
SEXUAL exploitation or prostitution arises because poverty is at large in communities, a group of 15 women who met last Saturday at Lae’s old airport, said.
People in positions of power such as policy-makers and the media, need to stop penalising female victims by perpetuating labels and concentrate instead on
that can help reduce poverty, the women said in a rare meeting by the group.
“We need to shift the focus from culture to poverty,” one of the women, who has been selling sex for more than 15 years, said.
The group called a press conference but pleaded that no photographs were to be taken or full names be revealed, at a house at Eriku and spoke of their anger following an attack on one of their colleagues at the suburb’s bus stop.
One of them, Mary, said being a prostitute “is just like any other form of employment”.
“Lower class and poor families have few resources and were vulnerable to sexual exploitation,” she added.
Violence against women is also widespread in rural and urban areas across the globe, the women said.
“We need to make people understand that this happens everywhere from the coast to the highlands,” they said.
“All women are vulnerable to exploitation, especially when they are poor and have children to feed.
“But however you look at it, all forms of prostitution and exploitation hurt women.
“It is not a free choice but a last choice and we need to give women more options.”
And according to their spokeswoman, there are also different levels where prostitution is practised with clients ranging from the average working man to highly paid workers.
The women who are viewed by society and the church as “unclean” claim that in prostitution they are denied every imaginable civil right in every imaginable and unimaginable way.