9 Aug 2006

Sexual abuse behind more Fiji child pregnancies

1:34 pm on 9 August 2006

The Fiji national advisor for family health says sexual abuse is behind the high incidence of child pregnancies in the country.

Data published by the Ministry of Health shows an increase in pregnancies among 10 to 14 year old girls, from eight in 2000 to 36 cases by 2004.

The incidence is prevalent among indigenous Fijians.

Health advisor, Dr Josiah Famuela, says abuse of young girls is now happening too often.

"20 years ago, we hardly heard [about it]. But now, it's a weekly part of the news item that unfortunate young girls have been sexually abused, raped, pregnant. It all adds up to the sad statistics that we are having here."

Dr Famuela attributes the problem to a disrupted family life and other social ills.

He says churches should help address the problem.

Meanwhile, the women crisis centre's Shamima Ali says girls are also ready earlier for sexual activities, without being aware of the consequences.