By ELIZABETH MIAE
THE child brides and sex slaves trade operating in Central and Gulf provinces is flourishing, according to a recent report by an NGO.
Men, referred to in the report as traffickers, move between Port Moresby and poor and remote villages in the two provinces arranging child brides.
“Very young girls from poor Central and Gulf villages are handed to men who offer large amounts
of money,” the report said.
It noted that the “victims” referred to their perpetrators as “top-shots” who included senior government and political officials, local businessmen, landowners, farmers, mining and logging workers.
These observations were contained in a report prepared by HELP Resources Inc, with support from Unicef, called “A situation analysis of child sexual abuse and the commericial sexual exploitation of children in Papua New Guinea”.
Although the report was done in 2005, it was only released by Community Development Minister Dame Carol Kidu last week.
Dame Kidu highlighted that PNG did not have laws on human trafficking, thus making it easy for human traffickers to get away with their crimes.
Domestic trafficking was rampant due to poverty where young women and girls were the targets.
“They usually come from poor families, especially in the villages, and are sold to traffickers (local men) to become sex slaves or child prostitutes in illegal brothels and night clubs in the city.
“Sex slave meris, women who are bonded sex workers, mostly work in captivity and against their will.
“Most of them have been trafficked from neighbouring villages either through false promises of employment or by coercion, and at times, by kidnapping and as such may or may not be prepared for sex work but are forced into the trade,” the report said.
It said based on comments from key informants, these sex workers provided sexual services to foreigners only but had no control over payments made by clients.
Dame Carol said the perpetrators could only be penalised under the Criminal Code, however, “we must report these things and we should not turn a blind eye”.
“When poverty arises, our own citizens make money out of trafficking by using their own people.”
Dame Carol said her department and partner agencies were working on a social protection policy that would help vulnerable groups such as these women and girls.
She did not elaborate on what this entailed.
During a forum by Soroptimist International last month it was stated that PNG had become a destination country for human traffickers where women were trafficked in from countries like Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines and China to be sex slaves.