The National, Monday June 24th, 2013
THE vulnerability to human trafficking of “Mosko Girls” – young girls who are employed in nightclubs to provide companionship to male patrons and
sell an alcoholic drink called Mosko – emerged as a new trend in cities in Papua New Guinea last year, a United States government report says.
“Teenagers, particularly underage girls, are employed in nightclubs as hostesses, dancers and bartenders,” the report, released last week, said.
The US State Department said in its annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report released last Wednesday that while child labour was outlawed in Papua New Guinea, it is estimated that 19% of its labour force was composed of underage workers.
The report labelled PNG as “a source, destination and transit country for men, women and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labour”.
It said women and children in PNG were subjected to sex trafficking and domestic servitude while the men were subjected to forced labour in logging and mining camps.
There were reports of internal trafficking involving children, including girls from tribal areas as young as five, being subjected to commercial sexual exploitation or forced labour by members of their immediate family or tribe.
“Tribal leaders sometimes trade with each other the exploitative labour and service of girls and women for guns and political advantage,” the report said.
“Traditional customs in PNG permit parents to sell their daughters into forced marriages – often to wealthy men and politicians – to settle debts, leaving them vulnerable to forced domestic service.
“In more urban areas, some children from poorer families are prostituted by parents or sold to brothels.
“Asian crime rings, foreign logging companies and foreign business people arrange for some foreign women to voluntarily enter PNG with fraudulently issued tourist or business visas. Subsequent to their arrival, many of the women, from countries including Malaysia, Thailand, China and the Philippines, are turned over to traffickers who transport them to logging and mining camps, fisheries, and entertainment sites, and then exploit them in forced prostitution and domestic servitude,” the report said.
It said the PNG Government did not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and was not making significant efforts to do so.
It recommends that PNG enact legislation that prohibit and punish all forms of trafficking; investigate, prosecute and punish offenders, including officials who facilitate or directly benefit from trafficking; develop and institute a formal procedure to identify victims; train law enforcement officers to proactively identify victims and refer them to protective services; ensure victims are not arrested, deported or punished for acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked; work with NGOs and international organisations to increase protective services to victims; increase collaboration with civil society, religious and tribal leaders to raise awareness and reduce demand for forced labour and commercial sex acts..
Describing the report as a “clear and honest assessment”, US Secretary of State John Kerry said: “The end of legal slavery in the United States and around the world has not meant the end of slavery.”